Scotch whisky has felt the effect of economic headwinds in China

Scotch whisky has felt the effect of economic headwinds in China

Export sales of Scotch whisky by value were flat last year as shipments to China fell sharply, but demand in the US and India hit a record high.  

Total category sales of Scotch overseas came in at GBP4.26bn (US$7.14bn) in 2013, compared to GBP4.27bn the prior year, the Scotch Whisky Association said today (11 April). Volumes in the 12 month period rose by 3% to 1.3bn bottles. 

In China, Scotch sales dropped by “nearly” 30%, the SWA said, to GBP51m. The group blamed “slower economic growth and government austerity measures” for the sluggish performance. Exports to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan also all fell in value by double-digits. 

However, other top markets compensated, partly helped by the performance of single malt export sales, which grew by 5% to a record of GBP820m. 

In India, the SWA said Scotch had a record year with sales up 12% to GBP69m, to make it the fourth biggest market by volume and fourteenth by value. 

The US, the largest market for Scotch by value, saw sales grow by 8% to a record GBP819m. The SWA said efforts to boost trade with the US through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could boost the market even more. 

In France, the largest market by volume, shipments rose by 15.5% to 177.8m bottles, but sales by value were flat at GBP434m. Poland, meanwhile, saw exports grow 38% to GBP60m - with exports now ten times bigger since the country joined the EU in 2004. 

Mexico saw sales jump by 19.5% to GBP109.8m, while Brazil recorded an 18.5% rise to GBP99.1m. However, elsewhere in Latin America, Venezuela, Scotch's 15th largest market for Scotch, sales slipped by 34% GBP67m.

Meanwhile, single malt export sales grew by 5% to a record of GBP820m, the figures showed. The sub-category now represents a fifth of all Scotch whisky exports. 

David Frost, the SWA's chief executive, said: “Scotch Whisky exports remain strong and the industry’s impressive performance makes a major contribution to the UK’s trade performance. 

“However, in the short run, there are some economic headwinds. Formal and informal barriers to trade remain. We should remember that the industry’s success does not come automatically but is based on hard work, investment and careful stewardship." 

To read a full breakdown of the figures by value and volume, click here