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Blended Scotch sales & volumes in UK to fall 4% by 2022 - data

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The blended Scotch category will remain under pressure in the UK over the next three years, a new report has said, with sales and volumes expected to decline.

Since its heyday in the 1970s, blended Scotch has struggled in the country, despite counting major brands such as Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal among its ranks. In the UK, and globally, blended remains the largest Scotch category but has faced increasing competition from other brown spirits.

A report released today by UK distributor Edrington-Beam Suntory underlined those challenges in Scotch's domestic market, showing that blended sales are expected to fall by 4% to GBP1.01bn (US$1.29bn) in the three years to 2022. In the same period, volumes are also predicted to dip by 4%, to 4.57m cases.

The declines are expected to come as sales and volumes for both US whiskey and single malt Scotch increase. In sales, US whiskey will increase 8% to GBP742.23m while Scotch malt will rise by 7% to GBP438.76m.

Scotch and US Whiskies Value Growth to 2022 in UK

201820192022
Scotch Blend105010501010
US Whiskey687.89694.77742.23
Scotch Malt393.86408.43438.76

Source: Edrington-Beam Suntory Distribution UK

The figures indicate that blended Scotch is under greater pressure in the UK than in its export markets. According to Scotch Whisky Association figures, blended Scotch export sales increased by 6% to GBP3.05bn in 2018. The year before, sales were up 8% to 2.88bn.

However, in today's report, Edrington-Beam Suntory said UK declines for blended Scotch will be partly due to consumers "trading up" to malts as the price gap between the two categories reduces. The UK's overall whisk(e)y market - including US whiskey and other categories - will remain buoyant, increasing by 6% in value over the next three years to be worth GBP2.44bn.

"The growth will come as a result of new 'accessibly-priced' single malts in the market and a closing of the price gap between single malts and blends," Edrington-Beam Suntory said. "At the same time, existing single malt drinkers are showing strong signs of trading up within the category as they explore limited bottlings and premium releases from the biggest names."

Smaller whisk(e)y categories, including Irish, Canadian, Japanese and single grain, are all expected to add value and volume in the UK over the next three years. Single grain will see the biggest growth, with Edrington-Beam Suntory hailing Diageo's David Beckham-backed Haig Club as the main driver in the category. Meanwhile, an easing of supply restrictions for Irish, Canadian and Japanese whisk(e)y will spur increases.

Edrington-Beam Suntory UK is a sales, marketing and distribution JV between Edrington and Beam Suntory. Today's report is the company's first Whisky Yearbook, which will be released annually.

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