May 16, 2021

The Catalan cava is drowned by the procés

The Catalan cava is drowned by the procés


With its two largest cavas in foreign hands (Codorníu in the hands of North American multinational Carlyle for four months and Freixenet controlled by the German Henkell at a bargain price) and the competition of the Spanish sparkling remains at home and the Italian prosecco abroad, the Catalan cava lives turbulent moments with severe adjustments of templates. The problems started with the independence challenge a few years ago and became more acute with the so-called «proces». The loss of splendor as a sophisticated product has forced Codorníu, one of the emblems of the Catalan cava, to suffer a labor bleeding that already affects 20% of its former staff. The cellar has announced the dismissal of 79 of its 700 workers. The restructuring, which will materialize through an Employment Regulation File (ERE), provides for the departure of 43 people from the center of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia (Barcelona); 26 of Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona) and 10 of Raimat (Lérida). In May 2017, Cordorníu and the unions already agreed on an ERE that affected 71 employees. The shadow of the cuts, not yet specified, also plans on Freixenet, which will launch to sell sparkling Italian with its own brand. The sparkling white brands, whose sales exceed 30% in Spain, also take their toll on the cellar, stagnating since the Catalan nationalists climbed a mountain where the vines languish.

Cava production is 95% concentrated in the wineries of Catalonia. The foreign market accounts for 64% of the total, with the EU as the main destination (44% of production) and Germany leading sales,

Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States remain, together with Germany, as the main foreign consumers of cava and are the only foreign markets where sales exceed 20 million bottles. However, these three countries have experienced setbacks compared to 2016. Especially pronounced has been the decline in the United Kingdom, where sales have fallen by 13.6%, presumably due to the effects of Brexit.

Despite the problems, the data predict a good future for sparkling wines of higher category, which increased sales by 10% in 2017, although the evolution was very different between the reserve, which grew by 13.43%, and the large reserve, which sold 6.6% less bottles. One of the pending subjects is to increase the sale of superior category cavas abroad. Today they only account for 7.2% of the total exported.

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