2021 Exports Show Scotch Whisky Industry On The Road To Recovery

| February 18, 2022

The Scotch Whisky industry continues to recover from the Covid pandemic and past US tariffs, a recent study from the Scotch Whisky Association shows.

In fact, global exports of Scotch whisky grew to £4.51 billion during 2021, according to the SWA figures.

In 2021, the value of Scotch whisky exports increased 19% by value. And the number of 70cl bottles exported also grew by 21% to the equivalent of 1.38 billion.

The study’s figures showed that growth in 2021 was driven in particular by consumers in Asia Pacific and Latin America, with value increases of 21% and 71% respectively.

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Scotch whisky aging at Springbank (image via Springbank)

Key emerging markets for Scotch whisky, such as India, Brazil, and China, grew strongly in 2021. Exports grew by 8% in the United States (the industry’s largest market by value) despite the first quarter of 2021 adversely affected by the 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky.

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

Yet 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.

Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said in a prepared statement that 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,” he said.

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“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 continued.

“But this is no time for complacency. The industry continues to face global challenges, including ongoing trade disruption, growing supply chain costs and inflationary pressures, and undoubtedly there is some road to run before exports return to pre-pandemic levels.”

He said 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.

Summary of the Scotch Whisky Association’s report:

  • Export value of Scotch whisky in 2021 was £4.51 billion , up £705 million compared with 2020 but down £403 million compared to 2019.
  • Export volume of Scotch whisky in 2021 was 1.38 billion 70cl bottles (equivalent), up 238 million 70cl bottles compared with 2020 and up 73 million compared to 2019.
  • On average, 44 bottles of Scotch whisky are exported every second (up from 36 bottles per second in 2020)

The largest export destinations for Scotch whisky (defined by value) in 2021:

  1. USA:          £ 790m                 8.4% (£729m in 2020)
  2. France:      £ 387m                 2.8% (£376m in 2020)
  3. Taiwan:      £226m                   24.3% (£182m in 2020)
  4. Singapore: £212m                 -14.3% (£247m in 2020)
  5. China:        £198m                  84.9% (£107m in 2020)
  6. Latvia:        £156m                 -11.8% (£176m in 2020)
  7. Germany:  £148m                   6.4% (£139m in 2020)
  8. India:         £146m                  42.9% (£102m in 2020)
  9. Japan:       £133m                  16.2% (£114m in 2020)
  10. Spain:        £118m                   7.9% (£109m in 2020)
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The largest export destinations for Scotch whisky (defined by volume, 70cl bottles equivalent) in 2021: 

  1. France:            176m bottles               -0.1% (176m bottles in 2020)
  2. India:                136m bottles               44.3% (95m bottles in 2020)
  3. United States:  126m bottles               12.6% (112 m bottles in 2020)
  4. Brazil:               82m bottles                 80.5% (45 m bottles in 2020)
  5. Japan:              56m bottles                  25.9% (45 m bottles in 2020)
  6. Spain:               48m bottles                  32.0% (36 m bottles in 2020)
  7. Mexico:             48m bottles                  13.0% (42 m bottles in 2020)
  8. Germany:         46m bottles                  7.2% (43 m bottles in 2020)
  9. Poland:             45m bottles                  19.4% (37 m bottles in 2020)
  10. Russia:             42m bottles                  40.7% (30 m bottles in 2020)

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Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...