Scotch exports hit £3.86bn as recovery continues

Scotch Whisky exports reached £3.86 billion in customs value last year as the industry continued to show strong signs of recovery after a slight decline in recent years, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The export value of Scotch was down 2.4% in 2015 — from £3.95 billion in 2014 — which was a slowing from the previous year’s 7% fall.

The total export value of Scotch in 2015 was 56% higher than a decade ago.

The SWA said Scotch Whisky’s prospects for growth remained strong but that exporters continued to face challenging global economic conditions.

The trade body stressed that around 40% of the volume of Scotch shipped globally was exported to the European Union last year, underlining the importance of the EU single market.

The SWA has argued that EU membership is vital for Scotch Whisky exports, with the EU playing an important role in eliminating trade barriers as it negotiates Free Trade Agreements with third countries.

The volume of Scotch exports was down by 2.8% last year to 1.16 billion bottles, from 1.19 billion.

That represented 34 bottles of whisky every second being shipped from Scotland.

The SWA said demand for Single Malt Scotch Whisky continues to be strong, with shipments up to £916.4 million in 2015 from £914 million in 2014.

Single Malts made up nearly 25% of the value Scotch Whisky exports in 2015, up from 18% five years ago.

Blended Scotch Whisky remains important and is still the biggest category at £2.77 billion — accounting for 72% of the global value of exports and acting “as the trailblazer for Scotch into new and emerging markets” said the SWA.

The USA, the biggest export destination for Scotch, remained steady at £749 million, nearly a fifth of all exports.

Japan continued its recovery, up 18% to £76 million.

Mexico was up 17% to £115 million, Turkey up 24% to almost £53 million and China returned to the Top 20 markets for Scotch with an increase of 5% to £41 million.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “Scotch Whisky exports continue to deliver and the fundamentals for future growth are strong.

“Whilst the last couple of years have been more difficult, the longer-term picture has been one of increased demand, new investment, and premiumisation.

“Challenges remain, with an uncertain global economy and political uncertainty in some export markets.

“Continued EU membership will also help to support Scotch Whisky exports to the single market and would leave Scotch well placed to benefit from the lower tariffs and fairer market access that the EU has been able to secure through its negotiation of Free Trade Agreements with countries around the world.”