Scottish whisky exports soar to record high in 2023

The Scottish whisky industry has achieved a remarkable feat in 2023, as it recorded the highest ever value and volume of exports in its history. According to the latest figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the total value of Scotch whisky exports reached £5.6 billion, an increase of 12% from 2022. The total volume of exports also rose by 8% to 1.4 billion bottles, equivalent to 41 bottles per second.

Strong demand from emerging markets

One of the main drivers of the growth in Scotch whisky exports was the rising demand from emerging markets, especially in Asia and Africa. China, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Nigeria, and Kenya were among the top 10 fastest growing markets for Scotch whisky in 2023, with double-digit growth rates in both value and volume. The SWA attributed this to the increasing affluence and sophistication of consumers in these regions, as well as the successful promotion of Scotch whisky as a premium and authentic product.

The SWA also noted that the UK government’s trade deals with several countries, such as India, Australia, and Canada, helped to reduce tariffs and barriers for Scotch whisky exports. The SWA’s chief executive, Karen Betts, said: “These trade deals have been vital for our industry, as they have opened up new opportunities and markets for Scotch whisky. We are grateful to the UK government for their support and we hope to see more trade agreements in the future.”

Resilience amid challenges

The impressive performance of Scotch whisky exports in 2023 was achieved despite the ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and the US tariffs on Scotch whisky. The SWA said that the industry had shown remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of these difficulties, by investing in digital marketing, e-commerce, and sustainability initiatives.

Scottish whisky exports soar to record high in 2023

However, the SWA also urged the UK and the US governments to resolve the trade dispute that has resulted in a 25% tariff on Scotch whisky imports to the US since 2019. The tariff, which was imposed as part of a wider dispute over aircraft subsidies, has cost the industry over £600 million in lost exports. The SWA said that the removal of the tariff would be a “game-changer” for the recovery and growth of Scotch whisky in the US, which is the largest and most valuable market for Scotch whisky.

Optimism for the future

The SWA said that it was optimistic about the future prospects of Scotch whisky, as it expected the demand to continue to grow in both established and emerging markets. The SWA also said that it was committed to supporting the industry’s sustainability goals, such as achieving net zero emissions by 2040 and enhancing biodiversity and water quality. The SWA said that these goals were not only good for the environment, but also good for the reputation and quality of Scotch whisky.

The SWA’s chairman, Ian Curle, said: “Scotch whisky is a national treasure and a global icon, and we are proud of what we have achieved in 2023. We have demonstrated that Scotch whisky is a resilient, adaptable, and innovative industry, that can overcome challenges and seize opportunities. We are confident that Scotch whisky will continue to delight and inspire consumers around the world for many years to come.”

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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