Scotch whisky exports decline in first half of 2014

22 September, 2014

Exports of scotch in the first half of the year were £1.77 billion, down 11% from £1.99bn in the same period of 2013, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

While scotch whisky exports to some key markets, such as France and Taiwan, increased in the first six months of 2014, the overall trend was downwards with economic headwinds and uncertainty having an impact.

The SWA says the demand for scotch is levelling off in some markets following a decade of fast growth. However it says, there is confidence in the long-term future of scotch, with many projects for new distilleries under way, and up to £2bn of capital investment in Scotland committed by producers.

Exports to France grew by 3% to 86m bottles, making it the biggest market by volume, and by 6% to £211m to put it in second place, behind the US, in terms of value. Exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were up 26% to £54m, with that area acting as a distribution hub for parts of Africa, Asia and India. Australia was up 4% to £37m. Growth of 31% in the difficult Indian market is particularly welcome, says the SWA, and shows the potential opportunities there. There was growth in several other top 20 markets, notably Taiwan, Canada and Japan.

But there was decline in many major markets in Asia and the Americas, for example China, Singapore, the US, Brazil and Mexico. This was due to a mixture of reasons: the well-documented anti-extravagance measures in China, economic slowdown in some markets, a stronger pound sterling and de-stocking. But in all these markets the whisky category remains popular and the long-term prospects are good.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “We are confident that scotch whisky will continue to grow in the long-term as markets stabilise and new ones, such as emerging economies across Africa, open up. However, it is clear that in the short-run that there are economic headwinds affecting exports.

“The latest figures also act as a reminder that the success of scotch whisky can’t be taken for granted. We need support from government to beat down trade barriers and help us access new markets overseas.

“That is why we are determined to play a full part in the forthcoming debate about further devolution, so that it enables a supportive business environment to ensure the future success of scotch whisky,” said Frost.

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