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‘Life-loving Nigerians’ not among world’s top 20 champagne drinkers, as unhappy minister claimed

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Nigerians’ preference for imports was a “malady” they should be cured of, agriculture minister Audu Ogbeh told a senate committee in March 2019.

In a video of the meeting circulating on Whatsapp, Ogbeh said Nigerians were “the biggest consumers of champagne on planet earth, more than the French who make it”.

He claimed the information was from a “Guardian” interview with the “French ambassador, the champagne ambassador”, who said “Nigerians love life”.     

“There are parties you attend in some places where the only drink is champagne,” he said. “Of course, the individual is free to spend his money, but his money comes from Nigeria’s common wealth.”

Champagne or sparkling wine?

Champagne is wine made fizzy by the gas carbon dioxide. It’s exclusively produced from grapes grown, harvested and made into wine in the Champagne region of France.

Only fizzy wines produced in the region can be called champagne, in terms of a 2006 international trade agreement. Those produced elsewhere have to be labelled “sparkling wine”.

Available data shows otherwise   

But data from a trade organisation that focuses on the interests of independent champagne growers and producers contradicts Ogbeh’s claim.

The Comité Champagne’s shipment bulletin for 2018 shows the French are far and away the world’s biggest consumers of champagne.

Of the 301.9 million or so bottles of champagne produced in 2018, 48.7% or about 147 million were sold in France. The rest were exported.

The five largest markets for those exports were the UK, US, Japan, Germany and Belgium. Nigeria was only the 27th largest, taking in 582,243 bottles in 2018. This was a slight dip from 593,097 bottles in 2017.   

Nigeria ranked second in Africa for champagne consumption after South Africa, which imported 1.06 million bottles in 2018.

A resilient claim

We debunked a similar claim in 2015. Then, Silvana Bottega, the head of the the Southern Africa Luxury Association, told BBC Africa “it is very well-documented that Nigeria has now become the second largest consumer of champagne after France”.

In 2014, Nigeria was the 23rd largest champagne importer in the world. The country imported 768,131 bottles that year. This suggests imports are actually falling.  

Nigeria previously held the 27th spot in 2015, when it imported 623,657 bottles.

Ogbeh’s claim appears to have morphed from a research prediction that Nigeria had the fastest growing rate of new champagne consumption globally, second only to France.Allwell Okpi (10/04/19)

Further reading:


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