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Scotch whisky exports declined in both value and volume during the first half of 2023, according to a new report from the Scotch Whisky Association. The report, based on HMRC statistics, shows a 3.6 percent decline in the value of Scotch Whisky exports over the first six months of 2023 compared to the same period a year ago. It should be noted that the first six months of 2022 set a record for both export value and volume as markets grew and restocked following the pandemic. The volume of Scotch whisky exports was down by 20 percent over 2022’s record volume.
SWA executives characterized the findings as part of a global trend toward premiumization in the spirits category as consumers drink less, but better. According to SWA Chief Executive Mark Kent, “around the world, we continue to see the same trend – consumers drinking less overall and switching to higher quality spirits like Scotch Whisky. Premiumisation in the spirits category didn’t start during Covid-19, but the pandemic certainly accelerated the trend, and it remains the case that consumers are trading up, enjoying premium spirits, and consuming fewer units of alcohol. Scotch Whisky remains well placed to benefit from this shift.”
France reclaimed its long-standing position as the top export market by volume with 88 million (700ml equivalent) bottles, despite a 12.6 percent decline from 2022. India, which had previously displaced France as the volume leader, recorded a 31.4 percent decline to 72 million bottles. The United States ranked third with 59 million bottles even though overall exports were off by 14.9 percent.
The U.S. continues to lead by value of exports with £437 million worth of Scotch Whisky imported during the first half of the year. However, that represents a 5.1 percent decline from 2022. France gained four percent to £235 million to finish second once again, while Singapore’s role as an Asian shipping hub helped push exports up by 59 percent to £165 million. Taiwan and China both reported strong gains to round out the top five.
The premiumization trend is most obvious in the Asia-Pacific countries, since none of those three crack the top ten in terms of value and the wider region reported a 13.5 percent gain in export value. The European Union gained 3.8 percent by value, while the non-EU European countries showed a 14.5 percent gain. North America, the Middle East and Africa, and Central and South America all reported declining exports.
This story was published August 17, 2023.