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Scotch whisky export value rises 4%
Published:  02 May, 2017

Scotch whisky exports increased by 4% in 2016 with the value of single malts exceeding 31bn for the first time according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

Scotch whisky accounts for more than a fifth of the UK’s total food and drink exports and has seen a 4% increase in the customs value which is worth £127 per second.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive, said: “Demand is rising in mature markets, such as the USA, and newer markets, including China. This confidence is reflected in the number of new distilleries – 14 have been opened in the last few years and we know of about another 40 at various stages of planning.”

Bottled blended scotch whisky remains the largest exporter and accounted for 69% of all scotch volumes exported in 2016.

However bottled blended scotch has only increased for the first time since 2012 by 1.4% to £2.75bn which the SWA believe is a reason for optimism.

Hesketh-Laird added: “With scotch whisky exports returning to growth and rising to more than £4 billion, and single malts exceeding £1bn for the first time, we’re feeling optimistic about the future.

The European Union remains the top destination for exports, worth around £1.2bn of the total and the USA remains the number one market by value, growing 14% to reach £865m.

However, this is an uncertain time for all business with a UK general election on 8 June and Brexit negotiations ongoing.

“We have to be alert to the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of Brexit and political changes in the UK and across the globe.  

“Industry success can’t be taken for granted and we need both the UK and Scottish Governments to work in partnership with us to deliver a business environment – at home and overseas - that supports sustainable growth. 

“At home, for example, we are calling for a ‘sector deal’ for Scotch as the new UK industrial strategy develops, recognising our economic significance to communities across the country.

“And we have clearly set out our objectives for Brexit to support jobs and growth in the industry in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Outside of the EU, India is becoming increasingly significant to UK scotch whisky trade with value of exports up almost 14% to £97m, making it the ninth biggest market.

The SWA says it is encouraging the UK Government to pursue a Free Trade Agreement to cut the existing tariff, with India as a priority after Brexit.

“While we expect demand for Scotch Whisky to grow in markets around the globe, we need support from governments at home and abroad. The industry’s continued success cannot be taken for granted by government and policy makers.”

The SWA has set out five key objectives for Brexit:

  • An open trade policy to secure existing EU trade deal benefits.
  • Robust legal protection of scotch whisky in the UK, EU and global markets.
  • Business certainty and consistency by transposing EU single market legislation of relevance to scotch whisky into UK law.
  • Scoping out opportunities where a distinct UK approach could benefit domestic industry
  • A domestic tax and regulatory agenda that delivers a platform for international growth.