Aus 8th Biggest Market As Scotch Exports Drop $2bn

Stills at Kingsbarn distillery. Supplied.

The damage done during a brutal 2020 for the Scotch whisky industry has been laid bare in newly released figures, with global exports down £1.1 billion ($AUD197bn) or 23% – the industry essentially losing a decade’s worth of growth.

In figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association [SWA] the contraction was largely attributed to Covid-19 and a 25% tariff placed on imports of Scotch in the United States, which is the largest export market. While exports to the USA dropped 31.8% during 2020, the Australian market was comparatively strong in dropping only 3.17%.

Australia has risen to the eighth biggest market in terms of value for Scotch whisky with exports reaching £113 million ($202m) throughout 2020. However, Australia sits outside the top ten when it comes to quantity of exports reinforcing the region’s reputation for having an appetite for premium products.

In releasing the figures the SWA’s Chief Executive Karen Betts said, “These figures are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by distillers over the past year, as exports stalled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and US tariffs.

“In effect, the industry lost ten years of growth in 2020 and it’s going to take some time to build back to a position of strength.”

While the SWA are calling for the removal of damaging American tariffs, other markets are encouraging. Latvia (fifth in value) and China (tenth) were the only countries in the top ten of export value that saw an increase in 2020, with the latter seeing a 20.4% rise to £107 million ($191m) in 2020. They are rare examples of growth as exports fell in 127 of Scotch’s 179 global markets.

The freeze on international travel also had a large impact due to the closure of global travel retail outlets.


Top 10 Export Markets By Value

  1. USA: £729m, down 31.8%
    (£1,069m in 2019)
  2. France: £375m, down 13.1%
    (£432m in 2019)
  3. Singapore: £247m, down 17.6%
    (£300m in 2019)
  4. Taiwan: £182m, down 11.5%
    (£205m in 2019)
  5. Latvia: £176m, up 23.6%
    (£142m in 2019)
  6. Germany: £139m, down 24.9%
    (£185m in 2019)
  7. Japan: £114m, down 22.1%
    (£147m in 2019)
  8. Australia: £113m, down 3.17%
    (£117m in 2019)
  9. Spain: £109m, down 40.0%
    (£180m in 2019)
  10. China: £107m, up 20.4%
    (£89m in 2019)

Top 10 Export Markets By Volume

Measured by 700ml bottles

  1. France: 176m bottles, up 1.5%
    (173m bottles in 2019)
  2. USA: 112m bottles, down 12.3%
    (127m bottles in 2019)
  3. India: 95m bottles, down 27.8%
    (131m bottles in 2019)
  4. Brazil: 45m bottles, up 5.7%
    (43m bottles in 2019)
  5. Japan: 45m bottles, down 26.2%
    (60m bottles in 2019)
  6. Germany: 43m bottles, down 14.3%
    (50 m bottles in 2019)
  7. Mexico: 42m bottles, down 17.9%
    (51m bottles in 2019)
  8. Latvia: 39m bottles, up 11.9%
    (35m bottles in 2019)
  9. Poland: 37m bottles, up 14.6%
    (33m bottles in 2019)
  10. Spain: 36m bottles, down 26.1%
    (57 m bottles in 2019)

Regional Data By Value

European Union: £1,256bn, down 15.1%
(33% of global exports)

Asia & Oceania: £998m, down 19.4%
(26% of global exports)

North America: £904m, down 29.6%
(24% of global exports)

Latin America & Caribbean: £260m, down 31%
(7% of global exports)

Africa: £137m, down 22.0%
(3.6% of global exports)

Middle East & North Africa: £121m, down 49.4%
(3% of global exports)

Western Europe (non-EU): £93m, up 11.5%
(2% of global exports)

Eastern Europe (non-EU): £35m, down 4.8%
(1% of global exports)

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