Scotch whisky exports ‘on road to recovery’, industry declares

SCOTCH whisky exports continued their recovery from the pandemic as global travel reopened and coronavirus restrictons in bars and restaurants lifted last year, but have still to return to pre-Covid levels.

The value of whisky exports surged by 19 per cent to £4.51 billion in 2021, amid strong growth from consumers across Asia Pacific and Latin America, statistics released by the Scotch Whisky Association today show.

Strong growth was highlighted by the SWA in key emerging markets such as India, Brazil and China, and there was an 8% rise in the value of exports to £790 million in the US – the industry’s biggest market by value – despite a 25% import tariff on single malt Scotch whisky remaining in place for the first quarter of the year.

The value of exports to the European Union climbed by 8% to £1.36bn in the first year since the UK’s exit from the bloc.

However, the value of global shipments was 8%, or £403m, lower than the level recorded in 2019, before the pandemic struck.

The number of 70cl bottles exported in 2021 was up by 21% on 2020 to the equivalent of 1.38 billion bottles. This was ahead of the volume exported in 2019, before the pandemic, by 73 million bottles.

Mark Kent, newly appointed chief executive of the SWA, 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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