Scotch whisky exports reach new high

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Scotch whisky Scotch whisky industry Travel retail Scotland

Post-pandemic restocking, the return of Global Travel Retail and premiumization trends all helped global exports of Scotch whisky reach £6.2bn ($7.6bn) in 2022.

That represents a 37% increase on 2021, a year still affected by pandemic impacts: but more importantly an extra billion compared to 2019’s pre-pandemic export total of £4.9bn ($6bn).

The figures, released by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), also show volumes rise: with the number of 70cl bottles exported growing 21% to the equivalent of 1.67bn (again, an increase on 2019 figures).

Asia-Pacific and India 

In 2022, the industry benefited from the full re-opening of hospitality businesses in key global markets, as well as the return of global travel retail. Exports were also boosted by the continued premiumization trend, with consumers attracted to high-quality spirits like Scotch Whisky, now often enjoyed in longer serves as well as the more traditional dram.

In North America, the US continued its recovery following the impacts of tariffs on Single Malt Scotch Whisky and has now reached over £1bn in exports (the first time since the 25% tariff on Single Malt Scotch Whisky was suspended, having reported £1.06bn in 2019). The US remains the top market for Scotch exports by value.

swa top markets

Both Mexico and Canada also saw growth, underlining the importance of securing further market access wins through the renegotiation of the UK’s Free Trade Agreements with both countries.  

However, 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.   

But the largest market by volume is now India, which has overtaken France this year and still shows plenty of potential to grow. Exports to India have grown by more than 200% in the past decade alone; yet the Scotch still only represents 2% of the Indian whisky market.

SWA says that a UK-India FTA deal which eases the 150% tariff burden on Scotch Whisky in India could boost market access for Scotland’s whisky companies, allowing for an additional £1bn of growth over the next five years. 

In the EU, markets such as France, Germany and Spain continued their post-pandemic bounce-back with strong growth in 2022.

SWA inset markets

Economic growth

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

Commenting on the latest export figures, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association Mark Kent said the industry has proved to be an ‘anchor of growth’ for Scotland, despite a year of significant economic headwinds and global supply chain disruption.

“The enduring strength of Scotch Whisky as the UK’s leading food and drink export is its global appeal to consumers who recognize the quality of the spirit, with production increasingly grounded in sustainable practices as we continue to reduce our impact on the environment by investing in the future,” he said.  

“Passing £6bn in export value for the first time is a milestone, and testament to the work of our member companies and the tens of thousands of employees across Scotland and the UK supply chain who make Scotch Whisky a global success story of which we are rightly proud.

“Looking ahead, the industry will have to continue to navigate economic headwinds, including global inflationary pressures, domestic energy and business costs, and a reduction in consumer confidence. 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.”

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