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whisky and cheese

Food and drink exports to the US have declined following the introduction of a 25% import tax six months ago, according to multiple industry bodies.

The country’s tax on imports of pork, single-malt Scottish whisky, biscuits, cheese and other dairy products was introduced in October 2019 as a “countermeasure” against European nations following a dispute over EU subsidies to Airbus.

Second largest market

According to figures from the Food and Drink Federation, the US is the UK’s second largest export market for food and drink.

Sales from this sector have nearly doubled over the last 20 years, but exports fell 6.7% in Q4 2019 following the retaliatory tariffs.

Whisky and cheese were among the sectors the UK government said could benefit from a trade deal with the US, according to a paper outlining the UK’s objectives for the talks between the two countries at the start of March.

The Scotch Whisky Association told Farmers Weekly it had seen a 25% year-on-year drop in exports for October to December 2019 in, with exports of the single malt declining by 17%. This fall represents a loss of £100m in exports.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said there had been a 64% drop in volume and 68% drop in value for pig meat trade to the US for the first two months of 2020.

Covid-19 impact

Whisky and craft spirits distributor Atom Brands told today’s Daily Update (29 April) that tariffs “will hurt everyone in the value chain on both sides of the Atlantic” particularly as the industry also grapples with the impact of COVID-19.

“The whisky business doesn't just drive value for whisky producers,” Nick Ravenhall, Arom Brand's director of private client business told us. “Our value chain touches agriculture, manufacturing, wholesale, retail and the hospitality industry both home and abroad.”

“American and Scotch whisky categories are in growth in both Europe and the US so returning to fair consumer pricing by removing the tariffs seems like common sense to me to allow the whisky industries in both markets to contribute to economic recovery post COVID.”