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11 February 2020

Scotch Whisky exports surge amidst backdrop of tariff uncertainty

Scotch Whisky exports surge amidst backdrop of tariff uncertainty
Scotch Whisky exports grew by 4.4% to more than £4.9bn in 2019, with 1.3bn bottles exported to 180 markets.

The Scotch Whisky Association has today revealed industry export figures for 2019, showing worldwide growth.

The figures, compiled from HRMC export data, show that the export value of global Scotch Whisky exports grew by 4.4% to £4.91bn, with growth in 106 of its global markets. The number of 70cl bottles exported also increased, growing to the equivalent of 1.31bn, up 2.4%.

Export growth was driven in particular in Asia and Africa, with value increases of 9.8% and 11.3% respectively.

However, a 25% tariff on the import of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Scotch Whisky liqueurs into the United States means the outlook for the industry remains uncertain, particularly given that this tariff could rise.

The SWA warned in August that exports in 2019 had been affected by changing trade conditions in key export markets, and did not reflect “steady-state” trade for the Scotch Whisky sector. This continues to be the case, with significant pre-shipping ahead of Brexit ‘no-deal’ deadlines in March and October 2019, and ahead of the imposition of a tariff on exports to the US on 18th October.

While the US remained the Scotch Whisky industry’s most valuable market, increasing in value by 2.8% to £1.07bn, export volume fell by 7% to 127m 70cl bottles. There was a marked difference in the final quarter of the year. In Q4 2019, exports to the US fell by 25%.

These figures underscore the global reach of Scotch Whisky. They show that Scotch Whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic, competitive, international spirits market and continues to attract consumers tapping into the global trend for premium spirits.

- Karen Betts, Chief Executive, SWA

Commenting on the figures, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Karen Betts said:

"These figures underscore the global reach of Scotch Whisky. They show that Scotch Whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic, competitive, international spirits market and continues to attract consumers tapping into the global trend for premium spirits.

“The growth of developing markets in Africa and Asia shows that Scotch Whisky continues to bring new consumers to our globally renowned brands.

“However, the imposition of a 25% tariff on exports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Scotch Whisky Liqueurs to the United States is very concerning, and the 25% fall in exports to the US in the fourth quarter of 2019, immediately following the implementation of tariffs, is stark.

“The tariffs are hitting producers hard, particularly small distillers.  Some are now asking themselves how they can continue exporting to the US, whether they can build up alternative markets, which is not something that can be done quickly, and if not how their businesses will cope.

“We are continuing to press the UK government to put in place a package of support for distillers to help mitigate the impact of tariffs, including a cut in excise duty in next month’s budget which would allow distillers to re-invest in the UK market while sales are under pressure in the US.”

Rural Economy Secretary for the Scottish Government, Fergus Ewing said:

“It is exciting to see the Scotch Whisky industry evolving and continuing to go from strength to strength. It is particularly pleasing to see growth in new and emerging markets such as Asia and Africa where exports of Whisky have boomed in recent years.

“The success of Whisky exports is cause for celebration and is due, in part, to industry and Scottish Government working together to create a national brand with a global reputation.

“The Scotch Whisky industry is a major employer in Scotland and we will continue to do everything we can to protect it. This includes keeping pressure on the US government and UK Ministers to end the damaging increase in tariffs on exports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Scotch Whisky Liqueurs to the US.”

 

Notes to editors 

Summary

  • Export value of Scotch Whisky in 2019 was £4.91bn , +£208m compared with 2018
  • The previous high for export value was £4.7bn in 2018
  • 31bn 70cl bottles of Scotch Whisky were exported in 2019, +2.4% compared with 2018
  • The previous high for export volume was 1.28bn 70cl bottles in 2018
  • 42 bottles were shipped overseas each second in 2019
  • Scotch Whisky is sold around 180 markets worldwide
  • Scotch Whisky accounts for over 20% of all UK food and drink exports

Top 10 Markets 

The largest export destinations for Scotch Whisky (defined by value) in 2019 were: 

  1. USA: £ 1,069m +2.8% on 2018
  2. France: £ 432m -2.4% on 2018
  3. Singapore: £300m -6.3% on 2018
  4. Taiwan: £205m +22% on 2018
  5. Germany: £184m +5.6% on 2018
  6. Spain: £180m +4.8% on 2018
  7. India: £166m +19.7% on 2018
  8. Japan: £147m +16.1% on 2018
  9. Latvia: £142m +8.1% on 2018
  10. Mexico: £121m -8.1% on 2018

The largest export destinations for Scotch Whisky (defined by volume, 70cl bottles) in 2019 were: 

  1. France: 173m bottles -7.9% on 2018
  2. India: 131m bottles +16.1% on 2018
  3. USA: 127m bottles -7% on 2018
  4. Japan: 60m bottles +19.7% on 2018
  5. Spain: 56m bottles +1.7% on 2018
  6. Mexico: 51m bottles -14% on 2018
  7. Germany: 50m bottles +8.3% on 2018
  8. Singapore: 44m bottles -1.6% on 2018
  9. Brazil: 43m bottles +10% on 2018
  10. South Africa: 42m bottles +0.2% on 2018

Regional data

In 2019, Scotch Whisky exports by global region (defined by value) were:

European Union: £1,476m                   +5.4% (30% of global exports)

North America: £1,284m                      +1.9% (26% of global exports)

Asia and Oceania: £1,239m                 +9.8% (25% of global exports)

LatAm and Caribbean: £379m              +2.7% (8% of global exports)

MENA: £240m                                        -12.9% (5% of global exports).

Africa: £176m                                         +11.3% (4% of global exports)

Western Europe (non-EU) £83m         -1.8% (2% of global exports)

Eastern Europe (non-EU): £37m              +20.4% (1% of global exports)

 

For further information please contact the SWA Press Office on 0141 221 0707 or email pressoffice@swa.org.uk