The Scotch Whisky Association has said today (30 October) that its members are relaxed about stock levels despite a warning that soaring demand in China has led to supply problems in the UK.

The SWA, which represents the leading Scotch whisky producers in the UK, was reacting to claims from Angus Dundee Distillers that the growing popularity of whisky in China has led to a shortage of stocks in the UK.

Angus Dundee has suggested the supply problems could lead to rising prices for consumers in the UK as distillers struggle to meet demand in China.

Duncan Baldwin, the company's regional director, told just-drinks that sourcing whisky in the open market has become "harder than before".

He said: "The supply and demand situation is very much suggesting to us that there are shortages, which inevitably could lead to pressures on price. If that's the cycle we're in now, we'll work with it and adjust our prices accordingly."

The popularity of Scotch has soared in China. Exports to the country were worth just GBP1m (US$1.9m) in 2001 but leapt to GBP46m last year.

However, a spokesman for the SWA said its members were calm about their stocks of whisky.

"Distillers are constantly assessing and planning for possible changes in long term demand in Scotch whisky's 200 export markets - reflecting the fact that 90% of sales are overseas and the length of time it takes whisky to mature," the spokesman told just-drinks.

"With 18.5m casks of whisky currently maturing in Scotland, our members are not indicating current concerns about stock levels."

A spokesman for Chivas Brothers, which produces China's top-selling Scotch whisky Chivas Regal, added: "We are performing very well in China but we have an extensive stock of scotch whisky and quantity is not an issue. We have no concerns about meeting demand."