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Scotch whisky exports hit record £6 billion in 2022

In 2022, the value of Scotch whisky exports was up 37% by value to £6.2bn, despite economic headwinds, according to figures released today by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). 

Glass of whisky on the rocks, literally and metaphorically, outdoors in the Scottish Highlands.: Scotch whisky exports hit record £6 billion in 2022

Scotch whisky exports broke records in 2022, growing to more than £6 billion for the first time.

The Asia-Pacific region overtook the EU as the industry’s largest regional market, with double-digit growth in Taiwan, Singapore, India and China as the post-Covid recovery continued.

India has also now replaced France as the largest Scotch whisky market by volume. Scotch whisky still only comprises 2% of the Indian whisky market, despite double digit growth. However, SWA analysis suggests that a UK-India free trade deal which eases the 150% tariff burden on Scotch whisky in India could boost market access for Scottish producers, in turn allowing for an additional £1 billion of growth over the next five years.

Established whisky markets in the EU — including France, Germany and Spain — saw strong growth in 2022, as export bounced back following the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the US was the only market with exports valued over £1 billion, as sales continue their recovery following the impacts of tariffs on Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Elsewhere in North America, Mexico and Canada also saw growth, highlighting the importance of free trade agreements with both countries securing further market access.

Commenting on the figures, Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said the industry continues to be an “anchor of growth” supporting both investment and job creation despite “a year of significant economic headwinds and global supply chain disruption”.

In 2022 the industry benefited from the full re-opening of hospitality businesses across key global markets, and the return of travel retail was key to export sales.

Exports were also boosted by a trend in premiumisation, with consumers attracted to high-quality spirits like Scotch whisky.

Looking toward 2023, the industry will continue to navigate economic headwinds including “global inflationary pressures, domestic energy and business costs, and a reduction in consumer confidence”, Kent said. “With the right support from our home governments, we remain confident that the industry can continue to deliver for the Scottish and wider UK economy.

“By reducing tariffs through the UK-India free trade agreement, continuing the duty freeze in the March budget, and ensuring the industry’s continued ability to advertise our world-class product in our home market, the Scottish and UK governments can count on the Scotch Whisky industry to reinvest its success across the UK.”

The whisky industry is responsible for employing 11,000 people directly in Scotland, over 7,000 of whom work in rural areas, and a further 42,000 jobs across the UK.

Nigel Huddleston, the UK Government’s Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, said: “Scotch Whisky is one of the UK’s great exporting success stories, contributing billions of pounds to the economy and supporting thousands of jobs, so I’m pleased to see these export figures showing a growing global demand.

“It’s essential we continue to support the industry as it expands into new markets thanks to our new trade agreements around the world such as CPTPP and in India. As we set our sights on £1 trillion exports by 2030, I’m confident we can see Scotch Whisky go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

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