H1 whisky exports up to £1.8bn, but volume down

Scotch whisky exports increased in value by 3.4% in the first half of the year to £1.8 billion,
boosted by the continuing growth in popularity of single malts around the world including the United States, the industry’s largest market.

However, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the volume of Scotch whisky shipped overseas was down 2% to 528 million bottles despite relatively favourable exchange rates.

The lower volume and higher value is partly as result of the shift to single malts.

Scotch remains the UK’s biggest food and drink export, making up almost a fifth of the sector’s overseas shipments.

The analysis of official HMRC figures published by the SWA shows exports of single malts rose 7% to £479 million in the first six months of the year.

Single malts now make up more than a quarter of the value of all Scotch shipped overseas.

This trend was clear in the US where total Scotch exports were up 8.6% to £388 million and single malts soared 14% to £123 million.

Scotch exports to China were up 45% to £27 million and exports to Japan expanded 19% to £43 million.

The European Union (EU) remains the biggest regional destination for Scotch with the value of
exports up 4% to £559 million, almost a third of the total.

“But the Scotch Whisky industry needs support to sustain growth in the long term, not least as it
manages the impact of Brexit,” said the SWA.

“Some markets declined in the face of continuing economic and political headwinds, such as Brazil where the value of Scotch exports fell 20% to £22 million.

“The SWA argues that a strong home market is required to underpin the industry’s global success and that Chancellor Philip Hammond could help next month by cutting tax on an average bottle of
Scotch from an onerous 80%.

“Recent figures show that the UK market has shrunk as excise duty has increased, with a near 4% hike in the March Budget seeing Scotch sales fall by one million bottles in the first half of 2017.

“A fairer domestic excise regime would help boost a world-famous industry which
supports 40,000 jobs across the UK.”

Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “More and more consumers around the world are seeking out the fabulous range of Single Malts.

“It is good to see demand for Scotch increasing in a diverse range of mature and emerging markets around the world.

“But the figures mask more concerning underlying trends. The value of exports is up but the volume is down.

“With the changes Brexit will bring to the way the industry operates and trades, we need the support of the UK Government at home and overseas if we are to grasp the opportunities and keep this international success story going.

“Overseas demand for our quality product requires investment by the industry in the UK and that
needs government support.

“A strong domestic platform for growth is vital and the Chancellor could take a step in the right direction in next month’s Budget by cutting the tax on an average priced bottle of Scotch from the staggering level of 80%.”