2020 Global Scotch whisky exports decline

According to figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), global Scotch whisky exports fell by more than £ 1.1 billion in 2020, to £ 3.8 million. This means a decrease by about 23% compared to the record-breaking 2019. The value of exports at the lowest level since 2010, and exports fell to 127 out of 179 world markets of Scotch whisky. In 2020, a total of 1.14 billion 70cl bottles of Scotch whisky were exported, which means a decrease of 13% compared to the previous year.

Such a drastic decline in Scotch whisky exports was mainly due to the limitations related to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit sales in catering outlets and the so-called "Travel retail", i.e. boutiques at airports. The volume of exports was also influenced by the customs duties introduced at the end of 2019 on the export of Scotch whisky to the United States, which is the industry's largest export market in terms of value.

Scotch whisky exports to the US in 2019 were valued at 1.07 billion pounds and was into the first export market to break the £ 1bn barrier. In 2020 alone, Scotch whisky exports to the US fell by 32% or £ 340 million, while exports to the country have fallen by more than half a billion since the temporary duty.

Over the past year, the industry has repeatedly called for more support for Scotch whisky producers, and numerous producer organisations on both sides of the Atlantic have unsuccessfully urged their governments to lift the harmful tariffs as soon as possible.

- These figures are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by distillers over the past year, as exports stalled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and US tariffs. In effect, the industry lost 10 years of growth in 2020 and it’s going to take some time to build back to a position of strength – said Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association  in a statement posted on the organisation's website. - In these challenging times, what’s so disappointing is the damage being caused by US tariffs.  The US has been, for decades, our strongest and most valuable market, but Scotch Whisky is now losing considerable ground there.  These tariffs were avoidable had the UK, EU and US governments and the European and American aerospace industries been less intransigent.  That governments and companies have allowed their dispute to continue while the livelihoods of real people, and the future of one of Scotland’s oldest industries, are put at stake reflects badly on them. The Scotch Whisky industry has now paid over half a billion pounds in tariffs – which are a form of tax – on behalf of the UK government because of the subsidies that the government granted to the aerospace sector in breach of World Trade Organisation rules. So we are calling on the Chancellor to support Scotch Whisky distillers by reducing our tax bill in the UK. Rishi Sunak can do that by cutting spirits duty in next month’s budget. That will help to mitigate the damage being done to Scotch Whisky and help to reassure distillers that the UK government wants to support Scotch Whisky in riding out the current storm and returning to growth when possible – she added.

TOP 10 export markets (by value)

  1. USA: £729 m (a decrease of 31.8% from £1,069 million in 2019) 
  2. France: £375 m (a decrease of 13.1% from £432 million in 2019) 
  3. Singapore: £247 m (a decrease of 17.6% from £300 million in 2019) 
  4. Taiwan: £182 m (a decrease of 11,5% from £205 million in 2019) 
  5. Latvia: £176 m (an increase of 23.6% from £142 million in 2019) 
  6. Germany: £139 m (a decrease of 24.9% from £185 million in 2019) 
  7. Japan: £114 m (a decrease of 22.1% from £147 million in 2019) 
  8. Australia: £113 m (a decrease of 3.17% from £117 million in 2019) 
  9. Spain: £109 m (a decrease of 40% from £180 million in 2019) 
  10. China: £107 m (an increase of 20.4% from £89 million w 2019)

TOP 10 export markets (by quantity)

  1. France: 176 m bottles (an increase of 1.5% from 173 million bottles in 2019) 
  2. USA: 112 m bottles (a decrease of 12.3% from 127 million bottles in 2019)
  3. India: 95 m bottles (a decrease of 27.8% from 131 million bottles in 2019)
  4. Brasil: 45 m bottles (an increase of 5.7% from 43 million bottles in 2019)
  5. Japan: 45 m bottles (a decrease of 26.2% from 60 million bottles in 2019)
  6. Germany: 43 m bottles (a decrease of 14.3% from 50 million bottles in 2019)
  7. Mexico: 42 m bottles (a decrease of 17.9% from 51 million bottles in 2019)
  8. Latvia: 39 m bottles (an increase of 11.9% from 35 million bottles in 2019)
  9. Poland: 37 m bottles (an increase of 14.6% from 33 million bottles in 2019)
  10. Spain: 36 m bottles (a decrease of 26.1% from 57 mln bottles in 2019)

Source: Scotch Whisky Association

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