The UK champagne market has lost its fizz, according to the latest figures from the region.

Rival sparkling wine Italian prosecco has been growing in popularity as people choose a cheaper alternative to champagne.

The sparkling wine category, which includes champagne, is ahead of all other wine categories with world sales up by six million bottles over the past five years.

Annual figures released from the Champagne Bureau have revealed 2013 sales were down 5.1 per cent by volume and 3.8 per cent in terms of value in the UK.

However, the UK remains the biggest champagne export market for France. A total of 136.6 million bottles are exported from Champagne, with 30.8 million shipped to Britain - almost a quarter of the total.

UK Champagne Bureau director Francoise Peretti, said: 'The UK champagne market is typically pro-cyclical, with a pronounced tendency to late reaction. It is not unusual to see the consequences of an economic downturn maybe one or two years after the event.”

She added: “The UK has been Champagne's number one export market for the past 18 years, and that is not about to change.”

The second biggest export market is the US with other countries showing growth. Shipments to Japan were up by 6.7 per cent and Belgium up by 14.1 per cent.

But Ms Peretti concluded:  “Market optimism combined with the tremendous buoyancy we are seeing in the on-trade leaves me in no doubt that the UK will remain number one among Champagne export markets for a very long time to come.’