Gin can match whisky’s success, says UK government, as exports boom

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Gin can match whisky’s success, says UK government, as exports boom

Related tags International trade Pernod ricard

The UK’s booming gin industry could grow exports to match the success of whisky, following a revival in recent years.

The number of gin brands has doubled since 2010 (from 31 to 73), and the UK is now the world’s largest exporter of gin with the spirit sent to 139 countries.  

Whisky exports were valued at £4bn in 2014, and Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said there was “absolutely no reason why our gin trade can’t be as successful as whisky”​ during visits to Beefeater and Sipsmith distilleries in London yesterday.

Pernod Ricard's Beefeater gin

Craft brands and premium brands

Gin exports reached a record £390m this year, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Key markets are the US, Spain, Germany and Canada, while growing markets such as India, Brazil and the Far East are also being targeted.

Between 2010 and 2014, 73 spirit distilleries opened in the UK. New craft gin brands are using locally sourced ingredients and natural botanicals, as a record number of micro-distilleries open.

The gin industry has grown in value by 19.8% in the last two years, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (a UK industry body with Brown Forman, Pernod Ricard and Diageo among its members).

There is also marketed demand for premium, it added: sales of premium British gin grew by 48.7% in this period.

The government says it is backing the industry with measures such as reducing the duty on gin by 2% in the Budget earlier this year, and opening up international food and drink markets for exporters.

It is also working with the industry to ensure gin is served at overseas embassies, while appointing Karen Morgan as the UK’s first Food Counsellor in China to focus on this market.

More data will be released to small businesses, including satellite imagery that can identify pure water sources for distillation.

It is also developing a 25 year plan with the food and drink industry to help productivity and growth.

Mike Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said it is ‘an extremely exciting time’ for the gin industry. “British gin has a strong, vibrant history and its renaissance continues to go from strength to strength,”​ he said.

Food and drink is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector, contributing £103bn a year to the economy and employing one in eight people. 

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