Scotch Whisky Exports Hit Record Level

02 Apr 2013

  • Scotch Whisky worth £135 per second to UK balance of trade
  • USA remains top market with exports up 16% to £758m

Scotch Whisky exports hit a record £4.3 billion in 2012, an increase of 87% in the last 10 years.

Rising demand for Scotch Whisky from both mature and emerging markets saw the value of exports grow for the eighth consecutive year. Scotch Whisky leads the way for British food and drink in overseas markets - forming about 80% of Scottish food and drink exports and a quarter of UK food and drink exports.

Defying continuing global economic pressures, the total value of Scotch Whisky exports grew by 1% last year to reach £4.27 billion. Scotch Whisky is now worth £135 a second to the UK balance of trade.

Falling sales in Southern Europe were more than matched by growing exports elsewhere. The French market was distorted by excise tax increases in 2012 which led to a "stocking up" of Scotch Whisky in 2011 before their introduction.

With increasing consumer knowledge of Scotch Whisky around the world, demand grew for Single Malt and premium Blended Scotch Whisky. Single Malt exports have risen over the last 10 years by 190% from £268 million to £778 million.

The USA remains the top market by value for Scotch Whisky with exports breaking through the £700m barrier for the first time to reach £758m in 2012. Demand from the USA is expected to increase as consumer confidence grows and many people trade up to premium brands.

The growth of Scotch Whisky exports in Russia, a market estimated to be worth in the region of £200m, boosted shipments to Latvia and Estonia. Direct exports to Latvia were up 48% to £79 million and to Estonia they were up 28% to £69m. Due to route-to-market networks, much of those exports are shipped onto Russia.

Asia continues to grow in importance with exports to the distribution hub of Singapore up 7% to £339m. Exports to Taiwan increased 7% to £165m and direct shipments to China experienced growth of 8% to £72m.

A successful outcome to on-going negotiations between the European Union and India on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would reduce the onerous 150% import tariff. The tariff, combined with local state taxes, places Scotch as a considerable disadvantage and penalises Scotch Whisky drinkers in India. Despite such trade barriers, exports to India increased by 17% to £62m last year.

In South America, Scotch Whisky is one of the UK's fastest growing exports to Mexico, increasing by 14% to £92m in 2012. The expanding markets of Colombia and Peru have been given a further boost as a result of the FTAs ratified by the European Parliament last December. Once ratified, the Association Agreement with Central America will benefit regional exports.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said:

"Scotch Whisky continues to lead the way for UK food and drink exports. A combination of successful trade negotiations, excellent marketing by producers, growing demand from mature markets, particularly the USA, and the growing middle class in emerging economies helped exports hit a record £4.3 billion last year.

"We deliver a remarkable £135 a second to the UK balance of trade. We are contributing massively to the government's wish for an export-led recovery.

"There is confidence in the future of the industry, illustrated by the £2 billion capital investment that Scotch Whisky producers have committed over the next three to four years. New distilleries have opened and older ones brought back to use to meet rising demand."

Notes to editors:
There was a decline in the volume of Scotch Whisky exports of 5% to 1.19 billion 70cl bottles in 2012 from 1.26bn the previous year, reflecting increased demand for more expensive, premium Blended Scotch Whisky and the growing popularity of Single Malts.
Please download table at end of this news release for top 20 markets by value and volume.

For further information please contact:
Rosemary Gallagher, SWA Communications Manager,                  rgallagher@swa.org.uk or 0131 222 9230/0743 260 5385
Campbell Evans, SWA Government and Communications Director, cevans@swa.org.uk or 0131 222 9231/07768 002 262

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