Scotch whisky export volumes have dropped by 70 million bottles in the past year – with France accounting for almost three-quarters of the decline.
Sales to France dropped from 205 million 70cl bottles to 154 million in 2012 – driving a 5% volume decline in global exports of Scotch over the year. The Scotch Whisky Association said the decline was primarily due to a hike in excise duty in 2012 that prompted French consumers and retailers to stock up on whisky in 2011.
The SWA added that exports to some other European countries – including Spain and Greece – had also been hit by the region’s economic issues.
And, while other major whisky markets including South Africa and South Korea had also recorded a drop in volumes, the association said demand had grown elsewhere and pointed out the value of Scotch whisky exports had grown by 1% year-on-year to £4.3bn. This was an increase of 87% over the past 10 years, it added, and meant Scotch accounted for 80% of Scottish food and drink exports, and a quarter of UK food and drink exports.
“There is confidence in the future of the industry, illustrated by the £2bn capital investment that Scotch whisky producers have committed over the next three to four years” - Gavin Hewitt, SWA
The US remains the top market for Scotch by value. Sales grew 16% year-on-year to £758m and are expected to continue to rise as interest in premium spirits grows, said the SWA.
Increasing consumer knowledge had helped drive up overall sales of high-priced premium blended Scotch and single malt, and had helped to increase overall value sales, the SWA said. Exports of single malt have grown 190% in the past 10 years to £778m.
“A combination of successful trade negotiations, excellent marketing by producers, growing demand from mature markets, particularly the US, and the growing middle class in emerging economies helped exports hit a record £4.3bn last year,” said Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Gavin Hewitt.
“There is confidence in the future of the industry, illustrated by the £2bn capital investment that Scotch whisky producers have committed over the next three to four years. New distilleries have opened and older ones brought back to use to meet rising demand.”