Scotch exports £1.7bn in first half of year

The volume of Scotch Whisky exports grew 3.1% in the first half of the year to the equivalent of 533 million bottles, up from 517 million in the first half of 2015, according to The Scotch Whisky Association.

This was the first growth in export volume since the first half of 2013.

The customs value of Scotch shipments was down just 1% to £1.7 billion from £1.71 billion in the first six months of last year.

The global market for Single Malt Scotch Whisky continued to grow, with export value of Single Malts increasing by 6% to £431 million and volume up 3% to 49 million bottles.

Single Malts now represent a quarter of total shipment value, with exports more than doubling in value over the last decade.

Bottled Blended Scotch Whisky continues to represent the lion’s share of exports.

While volumes increased by 1% to 362 million bottles in the first half, export value was down 4% to £1.16 billion, which may reflect the growth in Single Malts.

In the industry’s largest market by value, the United States, exports increased by 9% in value to £357 million, with both Single Malts, up 22%, and bottled Blended Scotch Whisky, up 6%, enjoying growth.

The growth of exports to India also impressed, with value up 28% to £43 million.

The new figures cover the first half of 2016 and therefore only one week of the period after the Brexit vote.

The SWA stressed the long-term challenges of defining the UK’s future trading relationship with both the EU single market and other countries.

In the short term, however, the weakness of sterling since the Brexit vote is likely to boost Scotch exports even more.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “The first half of 2016 was marked by an improving Scotch Whisky export performance, suggesting a strengthening in global consumer demand compared to the last couple of years.

“The industry-wide emphasis on craftsmanship and provenance, backed by investment, means that Scotch exports are well-placed to grow in the future, appealing to consumers in both mature and emerging markets.

“It is clear, however, that the uncertainties of the Brexit vote will create challenges for exporters and we continue to encourage early clarity on the likely shape of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and other countries.

“We are working closely with our members and government to ensure the industry’s trade priorities are well understood, to promote open markets, and to identify opportunities to grow our exports in the future.

“Given the continued international uncertainty, we also look to government to make every effort to put in place a competitive domestic tax and regulatory environment, supporting a key home-grown industry.”