“Thank God it’s Friday” is a phrase you might hear from working-class Nigerians happy to come to the end of a work-heavy week. For those in the champagne industry, however, this phrase holds a different meaning as that’s when they can expect to cash out from Nigerians looking to unwind at a bar by popping a bottle or two of their favourite champagne.
BusinessDay reports that champagne shipments to Nigeria from France have hit an eight-year high. Nigeria’s champagne import volume increased from 559,088 bottles in 2021 to 644,452 bottles in 2022, a 15.3% increase. The value of sales also rose by 17.8% to £25.3 million last year, according to data compiled by Comité Champagne.
You all like to say there’s “no money”, but bottles keep popping. So what’s going on?
A steady rise in demand post COVID
In 2014, before Buhari came into office, Nigeria’s champagne import was 768,131 bottles. Under Buhari, champagne consumption was at its lowest, particularly in 2020. Then, we only imported 304,199 bottles. It takes no genius to see the correlation between the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp fall in demand.
However, things have been picking up ever since. Across the world, 326 million bottles of champagne were shipped in 2022, a 1.6% rise over the previous year. The top three biggest champagne markets are the USA (33.7 million), the UK (28.1 million) and Japan (16.6 million).
Nigeria also experienced a rise, moving up four places to 28 on the list of biggest champagne markets out of 192 countries. In Africa, we’re second only to South Africa, which registered 1.3 million bottles of champagne imported.
According to BusinessDay, “The return of consumer confidence post-COVID, plus stability in some sectors like financial services, oil and gas, and the consumer goods sector, may be responsible for the increase in champagne volumes.” But that’s not all there is to it.
Increase in political activities
Nigerian politics doesn’t always have to be war. Our drinking patterns suggest that the increased consumption of champagne may also have come from high-profile political events where dignitaries come around to not only discuss politics but to be merry, inflation and cash scarcity be damned.
However, the spike in demand is segmented. That is, not all Nigerians can afford the big-boy lifestyle. But the champagne orders don’t stop among the wealthy and the political class for whom every day is a Friday.
Banky W sang, “there’s no party like a Lagos party”, and the data seems to support this. Another reason for the increase in champagne consumption is that more people are attending parties than during the lockdown, where there were curfews and movement restrictions.
Popular brands of champagne like Moet Moet Rose, Vurve Cliquote and Don Perignon cost between ₦50,000 and ₦200,000. However, not many people can afford luxurious champagne, so they opt for cheaper substitutes like wine.
According to Euromonitor, Nigeria’s wine consumption rose to 33.1 million in 2021, the highest since 2015, from 32.0 million in 2020.
Nigerians are effectively saying that no matter how tough things get, nothing will get in their way of having a good time. For better or worse, you’ve got to admire our spirit—no pun intended.