Scotch Whisky Association Releases a Report to Show Whisky Contributed £7.1 Billion to UK Economy
In 2022, the Scotch Whisky industry showcased its robust contribution to the UK economy, registering an impressive £7.1 billion, as revealed in a report by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
The report not only underscores the economic significance of the industry but also sheds light on its pivotal role in job creation, productivity enhancement, and the challenges it faces, necessitating government support for sustained growth.
The SWA report brings to light some significant aspects:
- The Scotch Whisky industry sustains an astonishing 66,000 jobs across the UK, with 41,000 located in Scotland.
- The sector contributes £3 out of every £100 to Scotland’s Gross Value Added (GVA), marking it as the second most productive sector in the country, closely trailing the energy sector, including renewables.
- Since the 2018 Economic Impact report, there has been a remarkable 29% increase in GVA. Since the 2016 report, the increase is an impressive 42%.
Scotch Whisky Challenges
Despite grappling with domestic and international challenges, Scotch whisky companies have steadfastly adhered to growth, employment, and productivity goals.
However, the industry warns of imminent risks, including the highest spirits duty rate in the G7, infrastructure needs in Scotland, and pending trade deals—especially with India. The report emphasises the indispensable role of government support in overcoming these challenges and ensuring the sustained success of the Scotch Whisky industry.
Mark Kent, Chief Executive of the SWA, underscores the importance of government backing, stating, “The past five years have been turbulent for our sector, facing retaliatory tariffs in the United States, the global pandemic, and economic pressures. The Scotch whisky industry has remained resilient, directing capital investment towards sustainability, creating world-class visitor attractions, and building more distilleries to boost jobs and growth.”
As the UK Spring Budget on 6 March and this year’s General Election approach, industry leaders stress the vital need for government support, ensuring businesses can continue to invest in the UK economy.
Impact for Scotland
A significant portion of the industry’s economic impact is concentrated in Scotland, where 75% of the total GVA, amounting to £5.3 billion annually, is generated. Legislative requirements, such as the maturation and bottling of Scotch whisky in Scotland, contribute to this regional concentration.
The report highlights seven regions of Scotland and their impact on the Scottish economy:
- Highlands and Islands: £799 million
- Glasgow: £627 million
- Mid Scotland and Fife: £507 million
- Central Scotland: £442 million
- West Scotland: £379 million
- Lothian: £244 million
- South Scotland: £160 million
- North East Scotland: £77 million
The report underscores the industry’s pivotal role in driving productivity in Scotland. The manufacturing of beverages, primarily Scotch, produces £273,000 GVA per employee, placing it second only to the energy sector in terms of GVA per head.
Government officials, including Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray, express unwavering support for the Scotch Whisky industry, acknowledging its vital role in the economy. The industry’s continuous growth in global markets is seen as an opportunity for increased jobs, investment, and international recognition.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has this to say about the report and Scotch whisky: “I welcome this report which demonstrates the great strength and resilience of the Scottish whisky industry. The sector’s contribution to the economy, with ever-growing exports and investment in skills and jobs, is of vital importance to Scotland, and the whole of the UK.
“The UK Government wholeheartedly supports the industry. Scotch is not just Scotland’s but the UK’s most valuable food and drink export and that’s why we’ve given it 10 cuts or freezes in duty at the last 11 Budgets, as well as removing punitive tariffs imposed on the US market.
“We are pushing forward with new and robust global trade agreements that will continue to safeguard the interest of Scotch whisky, ensuring that the unique characteristics and reputation of Scotch are protected.”
Scotch Experiencing Growth
Since 2018, the Scotch whisky industry has witnessed an investment of over £2 billion. From new distilleries to maturation warehouses, and visitor centres to low-carbon technologies, the industry invests hundreds of millions annually in Scotland and across the supply chain. This reflects the industry’s commitment to sustainable growth and innovation, securing its position as a cornerstone of the UK economy.
We have covered a number of these investments in the whisky industry over recent years. They include:
- Tomatin Distillery invests in new visitor centre for 2025
- Simpsons Malt invest in new biomass boiler
To keep up to date with whisky investment news follow our blog.
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