Scotch whisky exports “on the road to recovery”

birdseye view of a container ship

The Scotch Whisky Association has reported growth in value and volumes for Scotch whisky exports, as the category continues to recover from the pandemic and US tariffs.

The SWA said late last week that global exports grew 19% in value, to £4.51bn, in 2021. The number of 70cl bottles exported also grew by 21%, to the equivalent of 1.38bn.

However, despite the return to growth in 2021, the value of Scotch whisky exports has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with exports remaining 8% lower than 2019, the SWA said.

Growth in 2021 was driven in particular by consumers in Asia Pacific and Latin America, with value increases of 21% and 71% respectively. Key emerging markets for Scotch whisky, such as India, Brazil, and China, “grew strongly”, the SWA reported.

Exports grew by 8% in the US, while exports to the European Union grew by 8% in the first year since the UK left the transition period. 

SWA chief executive Mark Kent said: "The global footprint of the industry in 2021 is a clear sign that the Scotch Whisky industry is on the road to recovery.

“Value and volume are both up as consumers return to bars and restaurants, people return to travel and tourism, and we all return to a degree of normality after a period of enormous uncertainty for consumers and business.

“Scotch whisky growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland and the UK supply chain. The industry has continued to invest in its production sites, tourist attractions and workforce to ensure that Scotch whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic international spirits market and attracts new consumers around the world.”

Kent went on to say that this is “no time for complacency", highlighting continued headwinds from ongoing trade disruption, growing supply chain costs and inflationary pressures.

“There is some road to run before exports return to pre-pandemic levels,” he added.

“The UK and Scottish governments should do all they can to support the industry’s continued recovery by making the most of global opportunities, including the ongoing UK-India trade talks, ensuring fairness in the UK duty system, and investing in a more sustainable future as the industry works to reach net-zero by 2040.”

Related articles: