Scotch whisky exports rise 19% to £4.5bn

The value of global exports of Scotch Whisky grew 19% to £4.51 billion in 2021, according to figures released on Friday by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), as the industry continues to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and US tariffs.

The number of 70cl bottles exported also grew by 21% to the equivalent of 1.38 billion — this was up by 238 million 70cl bottles on 2020 and up 73 million on to 2019.

However, the value of Scotch Whisky exports has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with export values remaining 8% lower than 2019.

The value of exports in 2021 rose £705 million on 2020 but was down £403 million on 2019.

“Growth in 2021 was driven in particular by consumers in Asia Pacific and Latin America, with value increases of 21% and 71% respectively,” said the SWA.

“Key emerging markets for Scotch Whisky – like India, Brazil, and China – grew strongly.

“Exports grew by 8% in the United States – the industry largest market by value – despite the first quarter of 2021 impacted by the 25% tariff on Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

“Exports to the European Union grew by 8% in the first year since the UK left the transition period.

“Despite the return to growth in 2021, the value of Scotch Whisky exports has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with exports remaining 8% lower than 2019.”

SWA CEO Mark Kent said: “The global footprint of the industry in 2021 is a clear sign that the Scotch Whisky industry is on the road to recovery.

“Value and volume are both up as consumers return to bars and restaurants, people return to travel and tourism, and we all return to a degree of normality after a period of enormous uncertainty for consumers and business.

“Scotch Whisky growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland and the UK supply chain.

“The industry has continued to invest in its production sites, tourist attractions and workforce to ensure that Scotch Whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic international spirits market and attracts new consumers around the world.

“But this this is no time for complacency.

“The industry continues to face global challenges,  including ongoing trade disruption, growing supply chain costs and inflationary pressures, and undoubtedly there is some road to run before exports return to pre-pandemic levels.

“The UK and Scottish governments should do all they can to support the industry’s continued recovery by making the most of global opportunities, including the ongoing UK-India trade talks, ensuring fairness in the UK duty system, and investing in a more sustainable future as the industry works to reach net-zero by 2040.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.