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Scottish whisky exports on road to recovery

Published:  05 November, 2015

The Scottish whisky market is showing strong signs of recovery, according to new figures released today by the Scottish Whisky Association.

Exports in the first half of 2015 totalled £1.7 billion.

This still represents a 3% decline in value year on year, but is a major improvement on the 11% fall recorded over the same period last year.

The recovery is driven in large part by the premium end of the market, with single malt exports up 5% to £406 million.

The scale of the challenge to the industry is revealed by the fact that the nine largest markets by value around the world are still in decline.

The year on year falls range from 0.4% in the US to 16.3% in South Africa. Between them, the nine largest markets account for some 58% of exports.

There was good news in other markets, however.

Sales in Mexico were up 11.6% to £43 million, making it the tenth largest market for Scotch in the world.

The Chinese market bounced back by 45.8% on the back of a major push for blended Scotch, which saw 42% growth in the country, while sales in Turkey were up 27.5% to £32 million.

There was more stellar growth in Poland too, up 45.2%, and Canada up 20.7% with premium brands again driving growth.

The potential for premiumisation in the global market is reflected in the sales figures for India and Brazil. The two countries are respectively the third and fifth largest markets by volume, but only the 15th and 17th largest by value.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "We're starting to see some strong signals for growth and we continue to believe the long-term prospects for Scotch Whisky remain good. This is reflected in the large number of new distilleries opening, with half a dozen starting production in the last year or so.

"The growth of single malt exports shows that premium products are ever more popular. We had a decade of record growth, there was then a decline in exports in recent years largely because of the slowdown in the emerging markets, but signs of improvement are on the horizon.

"We will continue to push for more open access to markets by pressing for the removal of barriers such as high tariffs and unfair levels of taxation. Scotch needs a level playing field, in the UK and overseas, to continue to be a Scottish and British success story."