Scotch Whisky exports down in 2014
01 Apr 2015
Long-term outlook remains strong
Weaker economic conditions and political volatility in some
markets saw the value of Scotch Whisky exports decline 7% to £3.95
billion in 2014 from £4.26bn the previous year, according to new
figures published today (1 April).
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) called on the European Union
and the future UK government, no matter the political complexion,
to continue to press the case for more open markets, and to pursue
ambitious Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to promote exports.
The SWA pointed to existing FTAs, such as the EU agreement with
South Korea, which have boosted growth and to the huge potential of
agreements with countries including India, the USA and
Scotch Whisky has enjoyed strong global growth over the last
decade, with total value of exports up 74% since 2004 and Single
Malt up 159%. But the SWA reported challenges in several markets
last year, with the volume of exports also down slightly by 3% to
1.19bn 70cl bottles.
The overall picture, following several years of record-breaking
growth, was consolidation in many developed markets and underlying
strong growth in most emerging markets. Political volatility
affected this picture in places and some fluctuations were driven
by changes in stock levels rather than by underlying consumer
Growth was seen in a range of important markets, such as Taiwan
where exports jumped 36% to £197 million, partly on the back of the
growing popularity of Single Malt Scotch. Exports to India were up
29% to £89m, despite the 150% import tariff.
Exports to the USA, the biggest market for Scotch, fell 9% by
value to £748m. However, customs export figures did not tell the
whole story, as consumption figures released earlier this year by
the US Distilled Spirits Council show the market shrank by only
just over 1%. Single Malt sales volumes were up 6.3%. This suggests
the fall in exports in 2014 was due partly to stock adjustments -
as high inventory levels of Scotch are drawn down to meet consumer
demand, rather than buying new stock - as well as to an
increasingly competitive spirits market.
Global exports also performed better in the second half of last
year - down 4% - than in the first six months when they fell 11% in
value compared to the same period in 2013, suggesting longer-term
fundamentals are sound.
The picture was encouraging in Europe last year:
- Exports to France, the biggest market by volume and second
biggest by value, were up 2% to £445 million and 3% to 183m
bottles. The French market is stabilising after Scotch, and other
imported drinks, were hit by a tax increase in 2012.
- Exports to Spain were up 1% by volume for the first time in
There was a mixed picture in emerging markets, partly as a
result of political and economic volatility. Exports by volume to
Mexico grew 5% to 42.8m bottles, while value fell by 10% in that
market. There was a similar trend in Brazil, with volumes flat but
value down 20%. The important hub market of the United Arab
Emirates continues to boom, with exports up 27% by value.
Alongside Taiwan and India, there were other positive
developments in Asia:
- Exports to Thailand were up 16% to 27m bottles.
- Japan was up 8% in value to £64m, the first increase since
- South Korea was up in value to £117m, the first increase since
2010. South Korea was given a boost by a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
with the EU in 2011 which phased out the import tariff.
- However, exports to the major regional hub of Singapore fell by
39% in value to £200m. This was partly down to the ongoing
austerity campaign in China, the final destination for a lot of
Scotch shipped from the UK to Singapore. Direct exports to China,
the 26th largest market by value, fell 23% to £39m
The Association stressed the importance of pursuing ambitious
FTAs to open markets and support export growth. There are a number
of on-going negotiations which should benefit Scotch Whisky,
including the EU-Vietnam FTA expected to be signed this year, an
agreement with Colombia and Peru due to come into force and an
agreement with Canada. The SWA urged the early re-opening of
negotiations between the EU and India and progress on other
important negotiations, such as the EU-US Trade & Investment
David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said:
"Economic and political factors in some important markets held back
Scotch Whisky exports in 2014 after a decade of strong growth. It
shows that the industry's success cannot be taken for granted and
that we must continue to argue for more open markets and ambitious
trade deals that tackle barriers to market
"The long-term fundamentals remain strong, with consumers in
emerging markets wanting to buy Scotch Whisky as a high-quality and
authentic product with a strong reputation and clear provenance.
This drives the strong investment in Scotch Whisky production in
Scotland and the significant interest in entering the sector."
Notes to editors
The source of the figures is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
A table of top 20 overseas markets for Scotch Whisky along with
infographics relating to regional markets, both by value and
volume, can be found below.
In 2014, Scotch Whisky exports were worth £3,945,166,375 in
value, down from £4,260,644,945 in 2013. Volume was 1.19 billion
bottles, down from 1.23 billion bottles.
Rosemary Gallagher, SWA communications manager, 0131 222
9230/07432 605385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
David Williamson, SWA government and communications director, 0131
222 9226/07730 496151 or email@example.com