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Gin exports bounce back, but Brexit and Covid ‘double whammy’ leaves EU trailing

Published:  27 February, 2023

UK gin exports returned to growth in 2022, with South America and Asia leading the upturn, although EU sales, including to leading market Spain, remained significantly lower.

HMRC’s 2022 gin export and import figures revealed that Brazil, Argentina and Chile have led the way, with some strong growth in parts of Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa.

The total value of UK gin exports rose by £189.4 million to £730.9 million in 2022, up by more than one third on 2021’s exports, and exceeding 2019 pre-pandemic exports by 9%.

However, as highlighted by The Gin Guild, which “crunched” the HMRC figures, the “double whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit” continues to be felt, as exports to the EU are still 4% below 2019, with Spain (down one third) and Ireland seeing the biggest falls, and only gradually creeping back up. 

Imports of gin are also returning to modest growth, up 2% in 2022 against 2021, but this figure is still one quarter down on 2019 levels, and down a third in terms of imports from the EU. North American imports are also down.

Particular success stories highlighted (albeit from a small base) include exports to Japan, grown by £2.3 million, exports to India by £4.5 million, to the United Arab Emirates by £4.9 million, to Turkey by £3 million and to South Korea by £1.4 million since 2019.

“Despite the ongoing challenges of spiralling energy costs, price inflation, rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine, which all affect trading conditions, gin distillers have shown their resilience and their ability to innovate over the past three years,” said Pal Gleed, director general of the industry-funded Guild.

“The growth in exports reflects the quality, variety and reputation of British gin. Bartenders and restaurants want to serve it and consumers want to drink it, alongside the high-quality gins now being produced across the world.

“These latest figures show the potential for gin sales to continue to grow around the world as the spirit gains market share from other drinks which have traditionally dominated in some countries.”

Certainly in the UK, Gin’s evergreen resurgence seems to show no sign of abating, with The Gin Guild set to welcome up to 50 new members to its fold at its annual gin industry dinner in June.