Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Scotch whisky exports hold steady, despite Chinese decline

Published:  11 April, 2014

Scotch whisky exports held steady in 2013 at £4.3 billion, despite a sharp drop off in China, according to figures the Scotch Whisky Association.

In volume terms, exports grew by 3% to the equivalent of 1.3bn bottles in 2013 from 1.2bn bottles the previous year.

Single malt exports were up 5% in 2013 to reach £820 million, nearly a fifth of exports by value. 

Overall, Scotch whisky accounts for 85% of Scottish food and drink exports and nearly a quarter of the British total. The industry's exports are worth £135 a second to the UK trade balance.

Strong performers included the US market, which grew 8% on 2012 to a record £819 million - by far the largest market for Scotch by value.

France remains the largest volume market for Scotch. It was up 16% as it returned to normal following a tax hike on spirits at the start of 2012.

2013 was India's best to date. It is now the fourth biggest market by volume and fourteenth by value, up 12% to £69 million. The SWA is hopeful that the EU-India Free Trade Agreement negotiations will re-start following the country's elections later this year, leading to a reduction of the onerous 150% import tariff.

Exports to Brazil and Mexico grew by around 20% - to £99 million in Brazil and £110 million in Mexico.

In Poland, exports rose 38% to £60 million.

Exports to some parts of Asia fell, thanks to slower economic growth and government austerity measures. Direct exports to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all fell in value by between 13% and 15%. But China's fall was the most dramatic. It dropped out of the top 20 markets, with direct exports declining nearly 30% to £51 million.

David Frost, SWA chief executive, said: "Scotch whisky exports remain strong and the industry's impressive performance makes a major contribution to the UK's trade performance. The unprecedented investment programmes in Scotch whisky by producers show that in the long term they are confident that demand will continue to grow. 

"However, in the short run, there are some economic headwinds. Formal and informal barriers to trade remain. We should remember that the industry's success does not come automatically but is based on hard work, investment and careful stewardship. 

"As a former ambassador, I know that the industry also depends on strong political support from government, for example to influence European Union negotiations on our behalf or to press other countries to allow better access to their markets. Both the UK and Scottish governments have played an important role in this so far.  Whatever the outcome of the Scottish referendum, as an industry exporting to around 200 markets we will continue to need the backing of an effective diplomatic network with the necessary global reach, commercial expertise, and capacity to influence."