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Scotch whisky exports fell in 2014, the latest SWA figures reveal

Published:  01 April, 2015

Exports of Scotch whisky last well fell 7% to £3.95bn, according to figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association, compared to £4.26bn in 2013. 

Exports of Scotch whisky were down 7% to £3.95bn, according to figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association, compared to £4.26bn in 2013. 

The drink has seen strong growth in international markets since 2004, the SWA said, up 74% with single malt up 159%, but weaker economic conditions, political volatility in some markets, and stock adjustments had contributed to last year's decline. Volumes were also hit, falling 3% to 1.19bn 70cl bottles.

"Political volatility affected this picture in places and some fluctuations were driven by changes in stock levels rather than by underlying consumer demand," it said.

Although six of Scotch's top ten markets showed some value decline, the SWA maintained that the long-term outlook remained strong and there was consolidation in developed markets and underlying strong growth in emerging markets.

"Global exports also performed better in the second half of last year - down 4% - than in the first six months when they fell 11% in value compared to the same period in 2013, suggesting longer-term fundamentals are sound," it said.

Scotch whisky barrels

Exports in Taiwan, which rose 36% to £197m, were driven by Single Malt Scotch, and there was good growth in India, up 29% to £89m, despite a high 150% import tariff. Japan and the UAE also saw strong double digit volume growth, up 30% and 26% respectively, and European markets were "encouraging". France, Scotch's top market by volume rose 3% by volume to 183m bottles, and 2% by value to £445m, which the SWA said was evidence of "stabilisation". However Germany and South Africa also saw value and volumes declines, and value sales in Spain dipped 8%, on volumes up only 1%.

The picture from the USA, Scotch's biggest market, was complex, the SWA said. Although the figures saw exports fall 9% by value to £748m, this was largely the result in high inventories of Scotch in the US market being consumed rather than new stock adjustment, the SWA said. It highlighted figures released by the US Distilled Spirit Council earlier this year, which showed consumption up 1% and volume sales of single malt up 6.3%.

The SWA said there was "huge potential" in countries such as India, Vietnam and the USA, and called on the EU and UK government to push for ambitious free trade agreements to promote export and a more open market. It highlighted the EU's agreement with South Korea which had boosted growth.