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Scotch whisky exports drop 20% by volume in first half of the year

The volume of Scotch whisky exported in the first half of this year fell by 20%, while value exports were down just 3.6% on 2022 figures, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Scotch whisky exports drop 20% by volume in first half of the year

Scotch whisky posted record exports in 2022 as markets were boosted following the pandemic. Exports was up 37% by value to £6.2bn last year, despite economic headwinds, growing to more than £6 billion for the first time in history.

Data for H1 2023 shows that value fell by 3.6% compared with last year’s record figures, equal to £2.57bn for the first half of the year.

However, the same period saw the volume of exports drop by a fifth (20%) to the equivalent of 630m 70cl bottles.

Mark Kent, SWA chief executive, chalked the steep drop in export volume up to “consumers drinking less overall and switching to higher quality spirits”.

He said that while “consumers are trading up, enjoying premium spirits”, they are also “consuming fewer units of alcohol”.

The US remains Scotch whisky’s biggest export market by value.

France reclaimed its position as Scotch’s largest export market by volume, overtaking India which peaked at the top spot last year. Despite double-digit growth, Scotch whisky still only comprised 2% of the Indian whisky market in 2022. In H1 2023, India remains a high-volume export market for Scotch whisky, with the equivalent of 72m bottles exported.

The SWA continues to push for a UK-India free trade agreement which could ease the 150% tariff burden on Scotch whisky, and see the value of Scotch exports to this vital market grow to more than £1bn within five years.

The association also called on the Government to recognise the importance of the Scotch industry following the recent 10.1% increase to excise duty which widens of the tax gap between spirits with beer and cider.

Kent outlined three priorities that the SWA hopes to focus on with the help of Government — no further tax increase in the autumn budget, a comprehensive free-trade agreement with India which reduces the 150% tariff on Scotch Whisky, and gearing regulation to support the industry to achieve its full potential.

He urged the Government to recognise Scotch as a “high quality, home grown product which delivers more economic benefit per serve than any other alcohol category”, stressing that the industry needs “supporting”.

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