Scotch sector rebounds from US tariff and pandemic with rising exports – but not back to 2019 levels

Fri 20 Aug 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Scotch exports were 31% higher for the first half of 2021, at £2.2 billion, compared with the opening six months of last year, although this figure is still 10% down on 2019 exports.

Volumes increased by 42% to 597.8m bottles in the first six months, figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) show.

Hospitality and travel

The Herald reports that the twin effects of a 25% US tariff on Scotch and the pandemic, which has hammered whisky sales in the hospitality and travel retail sectors, have seen a £1.1bn fall in overall exports to £3.8bn in 2020, a drop of 23% on the year before.

The industry is still bouncing back from the effect of the 25% tariff imposed on exports to the US, says the Times. The tariff was suspended in June this year and sales to the US have started to rise again, up by 3.9%. However, sales of around £600m are estimated to have been lost in the meantime.

China rising

While the US remains the biggest export market by value, China showed the fastest growth, more than doubling by 126% to £91m in the past year, overtaking Taiwan, India, Japan, Latvia, Germany and Mexico to become the fourth biggest export market, SWA figures show.

Distillers have faced a ‘triple whammy’ of Covid, Brexit and the US tariff costing it £5m a week, the SNP has claimed, reported in the Daily Record.

SNP MP Brendan O’Hara called for “continued and intensified support for Scotch whisky and that includes a response to the long-awaited Treasury review of alcohol duty”.