A taste for Scotch in Taiwan
18 Jun 2013
Taiwan is a great place to do business and is an important and
growing market for Scotch Whisky. In fact, it is the largest export
market by value for Scotch in Asia, totalling £165 million in
customs value alone last year.
Despite being such a lucrative market for exports from the UK,
Taiwan has a relatively low profile and slips under the radar of
many sectors. The UK Government is trying to rectify this situation
with Nick Baird, chief executive officer of UK Trade and Investment
(UKTI), recently leading a delegation to the annual Taiwan-Britain
Business Council. I was delighted to take part in this trip and to
meet the government of Taiwan to discuss a number of subjects,
including the protection of Scotch Whisky.
Consumers in Taiwan are very sophisticated and over the years
have developed a taste for Single Malt Scotch Whisky, which helps
explain why it is such a high value market. Taiwan, a country of 23
million people, is the third biggest market by value for Single
Whenever I visit any country, one of the first things I do is
pop in to one or two liquor stores to get a sense for the brands
that are popular. When I browsed the shelves at a store in
Taipei, I was once again impressed by the sheer variety of Single
Malts on sale. Among the single cask bottlings and special
editions were expressions that you will very rarely encounter even
in Scotland. People in Taiwan really know their Scotch.
Taiwan is a good market for Scotch Whisky distillers of all
sizes, from the largest multinational to the smallest trader.
Consumers are always looking out for a brand that their friends may
not have encountered, which gives smaller companies a great
As in many markets in Asia, a priority for us is to deal with
misleadingly labelled products falsely claiming to be Scotch
Whisky. This cheats consumers and devalues the public perception of
Scotch Whisky. The temptation is particularly great in a
premium market where the economic incentives are significant.
We work well with the regulators and local enforcement agencies in
Taiwan to tackle products specifically labelled 'Scotch
Whisky'. This collaboration is successful but a knock-on
effect is a change in the fraudsters' behaviour. They are now using
indirect indications of Scottish origin, or simply labelling their
products as 'Whisky' in English, which tends to suggest that they
are Scotch when they are not. While in Taiwan I took the
opportunity to discuss what we can do about this problem with the
Initiatives such as this UKTI-led trip should help more Scotch
Whisky producers, and other British exporters, realise the
opportunities of doing business with Taiwan.
Martin Bell is a deputy director of international affairs at
the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).