Whisky exports grew 19% to £4.5bn last year

The end of US tariffs and reduced impacts from the pandemic saw the industry rebound.

11 February 2022

Scotch whisky exports grew by 19% to reach a total value of £4.51 billion in 2021, as the end of US tariffs and reduced impacts from the pandemic saw the industry rebound.

However the value of exports has not returned to pre-coronavirus levels and remains 8% lower than in 2019.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) released the latest annual export figures on Friday.

Washington agreed in March to temporarily halt tariffs, which had been imposed by the Trump administration on single malts as part of the Airbus-Boeing dispute.

Further talks led to the UK and US agreeing to cease any retaliatory tariffs for five years.

The SWA said growth was mainly driven by consumers in Asia and Latin America, where the value of exports was up 21% and 71% respectively.

Exports to the US grew by 8% and exports to the EU also increased 8%.

SWA chief executive Mark Kent said: “The global footprint of the industry in 2021 is a clear sign that the Scotch whisky industry is on the road to recovery.

“Value and volume are both up as consumers return to bars and restaurants, people return to travel and tourism, and we all return to a degree of normality after a period of enormous uncertainty for consumers and business.

Annandale Distillery airbnb
The US brought tariffs to a halt last year (Euan Cherry/PA)

“Scotch whisky growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland and the UK supply chain.

“The industry has continued to invest in its production sites, tourist attractions and workforce to ensure that Scotch whisky remains at the heart of a dynamic international spirits market and attracts new consumers around the world.”

Mr Kent said there is still “some road to run” before exports return to pre-pandemic levels.

He added: “The UK and Scottish governments should do all they can to support the industry’s continued recovery by making the most of global opportunities, including the ongoing UK-India trade talks, ensuring fairness in the UK duty system, and investing in a more sustainable future as the industry works to reach net-zero by 2040.”

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