Whisky was the most popular category for exports outside the EU in 2012

Whisky was the most popular category for exports outside the EU in 2012

Sales of European spirits outside the European Union hit a record EUR10.2bn (US$13.3bn) in 2012, with growth being driven by whisk(e)y, new figures reveal.

Exports to Russia saw the biggest growth last year, as sales rose by 37% to EUR749m for EU producers, trade body Spirits Europe said today (9 April). The US remained the largest market, with sales in 2012 up by 22% to EUR3.3bn.

Singapore is the second biggest importer of European spirits, where sales rose by 23% to EUR1.05bn for EU producers last year. 

Growth in Asia's emerging markets was driven by China, where EU spirits sales hit EUR587m in 2012, up 19%. Exports to India remained “stagnant” the group noted, despite “great potential”. Malaysia and the Philippines saw sharp rises in imports.

Whisk(e)y was the strongest performing category for producers, representing  44% of sales outside Europe.

Cognac accounted for 26% of sales in 2012, followed by vodka and liqueurs.

Paul Skehan, Spirits Europe's director general said the results flagged the “competitiveness of the sector in some very difficult markets around the world”. He added:  “At a time when many domestic European markets are struggling, we underline the importance of these thriving export markets to our sector.”  

The group said it supports an “offensive” EU trade policy, to ensure fair access of spirits products to all “significant third markets”.

Earlier this month, the Scotch Whisky Association reported that global export volumes of Scotch fell by 5% in 2012, but sales by value were slightly up.