Recovery in Sight for Scotch Whisky Exports

After suffering from the impacts of Covid-19 and US tariffs, recovery is in sight for scotch whisky exports.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has released new figures which evidence growth in the value of exports; in the first half of this year, they were up 31% higher than the same period in 2020. Whilst these figures are encouraging, the value was still 10% down on 2019’s record figure. 

Compared to 2019, exports of Scotch to the EU diminished in early 2021. This fall in exports was propelled by the continuation of Covid-related lockdowns and producers “adjust(ing) to new post-Brexit trading arrangements”, the SWA said. 

In late 2019, a 25% tariff was imposed on single malts following a trade row with the EU, this greatly impacted Exports to the US which continued into the beginning of this year. Although the tax was suspended in march this year, exports for the first half were down by 34% in comparison to 2019. Regardless of the issues it has faced, the US still remains Scotch whisky’s biggest export market by value.

Looking to Asian markets, exports which quickly recovered during the second half of 2020 continued to grow in the first half of 2021. China’s exports have grown by 126% to £91m, already overtaking the £89m exported in the whole of 2019.

Although whisky exports were clearly knocked by Covid-19 and US tariffs, SWA’s chief executive, Karen Betts described the pace of recovery of exports as “very promising”.

She said: “Last year, the combination of US tariffs and Covid-19 brought Scotch whisky exports to their lowest level in a decade, so it’s encouraging to see them start to regain strength…But like many other sectors, Scotch whisky companies are feeling the ongoing impacts of trade disruption on our supply chain and global distribution, and the cost of goods and services has risen significantly”

Ms Betts added that government support on issues such as alcohol duty is necessary for the industry “to recover fully from the turbulence and lost exports of the last couple of years”.