Tuesday, February 11, 2020


The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has today revealed export figures for 2019, showing that the value of global Scotch whisky exports grew by 4.4% to £4.91bn.

The figures, which were compiled from HRMC export data, show that growth was driven in particular in Asia and Africa, with value increases of 9.8% and 11.3% respectively.

Scotch whisky exports continue to grow despite backdrop of tariff uncertainty 

However, a 25% tariff on the import of single malt Scotch whisky and Scotch whisky liqueurs into the United States means the outlook for the industry remains uncertain, particularly given that this tariff could rise.

The SWA warned in August that exports in 2019 had been affected by changing trade conditions in key export markets, and did not reflect “steady-state” trade for the Scotch Whisky sector. This continues to be the case, with significant pre-shipping ahead of Brexit ‘no-deal’ deadlines in March and October 2019, and ahead of the imposition of a tariff on exports to the US on 18th October.

While the US remained the Scotch Whisky industry’s most valuable market, increasing in value by 2.7% to £1.07bn, export volume fell by 7% to 127m 70cl bottles. There was a marked difference in the final quarter of the year. In Q4 2019, exports to the US fell by 25%.

Commenting on the news, Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the SWA, said: "These figures underscore the global reach of Scotch Whisky. They show that Scotch Whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic, competitive, international spirits market and continues to attract consumers tapping into the global trend for premium spirits. The growth of developing markets in Africa and Asia shows that Scotch Whisky continues to bring new consumers to our globally renowned brands.”

Karen went onto say: “However, the imposition of a 25% tariff on exports of single malt Scotch whisky and Scotch whisky liqueurs to the United States is very concerning, and the 25% fall in exports to the US in the fourth quarter of 2019, immediately following the implementation of tariffs, is stark. The tariffs are hitting producers hard, particularly small distillers.  Some are now asking themselves how they can continue exporting to the US, whether they can build up alternative markets, which is not something that can be done quickly, and if not how their businesses will cope.”

Karen concluded by saying: “We are continuing to press the UK government to put in place a package of support for distillers to help mitigate the impact of tariffs, including a cut in excise duty in next month’s budget which would allow distillers to re-invest in the UK market while sales are under pressure in the US.”

Scotch whisky is sold around 180 markets worldwide, and accounts for over 20% of all UK food and drink exports.

Posted by Steve Rush