New markets save Scotch from impact of austerity

  • @BawdenTom

Scotch whisky exports hit a record £4.3bn last year, although sales were up only 1 per cent as widespread austerity took its toll on the bottom line.

Exports of the tipple have jumped by 87 per cent in the past decade and now account for 80 per cent of Scotland's food and drink exports by value, as well as a quarter of the UK's.

Scotch whisky exports have been boosted by emerging markets such as Russia, Taiwan and China as well as a return of confidence in major traditional customers such as the US, the biggest consumer, which spent £758m on imports.

Gavin Hewitt, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "A combination of successful trade negotiations … growing demand from mature markets, particularly the USA, and the growing middle class in emerging economies helped exports."

Despite a 25 per cent drop last year, France remains the biggest market by volume, buying 153.9 million standard 700ml bottles.

Exports to China jumped 8 per cent last year, although the country remains a relatively small consumer at 22.9 million bottles. China's consumption is a whisker ahead of Taiwan's by volume, although its population of 1.3 billion dwarfs Taiwan's 23 million.

Mr Hewitt said growth was expected to continue for the foreseeable future.