Scottish whisky exports fell by 23% last year

The US tariffs and the Covid pandemie hit the Scottish whisky industry hard


These are figures that highlight the currently serious situation of the Scottish whisky industry: The Scotch Whisky Association SWA published the key figures for Scottish whisky exports 2020 and reports a 23% decrease in export volume compared to the previous year. That equates to a value of 1.1 billion pounds and takes the Scottish whisky exports back to what they were ten years ago.

US tariffs hit the exports hard

The Scotch Whisky Association blames this decrease mainly to the 25% US tariffs, because the US are the largest Scotch export market, and also to the consequences of the lockdowns in many countries due to the Covid 19 situation. The SWA predicted in October 2019 that the US tariffs would have a significant impact on exports (we reported).

“In these challenging times, what’s so disappointing is the damage being caused by US tariffs. The US has been, for decades, our strongest and most valuable market, but Scotch Whisky is now losing considerable ground there. These tariffs were avoidable had the UK, EU and US governments and the European and American aerospace industries been less intransigent. That governments and companies have allowed their dispute to continue while the livelihoods of real people, and the future of one of Scotland’s oldest industries, are put at stake reflects badly on them“, Karen Betts said, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, and called on the UK government to help distilleries by lowering taxes.

Export values fell to 70% of all markets due to the pandemic

The closure of hospitality and the effects of travel restrictions on the travel made export values fall in 70% of all export markets. Exports to the European market decreased by 15%. The largest export destinations in the order of their export value (note the plus in 5th place) results in:

  • USA: £729m (-31.8%)
  • France: £375m (-13.1%)
  • Singapore: £247m (-17.6%)
  • Taiwan: £182m (-11.5%)
  • Latvia: £176m (+23.6%)
  • Germany: £139m (-24.9%)

Regarding the number of 0.7l bottles and not the export value, the list reads different:

  • France: 176m bottles (+1.5%)
  • USA: 112m bottles (-12.3%)
  • India: 95m bottles (-27.8%)
  • Brazil: 45m bottles (+5.7%)
  • Japan: 45m bottles (-26.2%)
  • Germany: 43m bottles (-14.3%)

More information and figures can be found on the website of the SWA.

Source: Scotch Whisky Association