Record whisky sales to India leads global demand

Environment Secretary visits Scotland as sales of Scotch whisky soar.

Trade in Scotch whisky – the UK’s biggest food and drink export - grew by 3.1 per cent during the first half of the year, fuelled by booming demand in India where exports have risen by a record 41 per cent, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced today.

During a visit to the Glenmorangie bottling plant, as part of her first visit to Scotland as Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom saw first-hand how demand for Scotch has grown, with the equivalent of 533 million bottles shipped overseas in the first half of the year, up from 517m bottles in the first half of 2015.

This represents the first growth in volume since 2013, with the Indian export figures showing an increase of 41 per cent compared to the same period in 2015.

India is highlighted in the Government’s recently launched UK Food and Drink International Action Plan for its export potential. The ambition is to gain £349m in food and drink export wins there over the next five years.

Following the tour of Glenmorangie, Andrea Leadsom said:

"The Scotch whisky industry is a powerful example on the significant global opportunities out there for our food and drink businesses.

"It accounts for nearly one-quarter of all our food and drink exports each year – a true powerhouse of our food and farming industry which generates over £100 billion a year and employs one in eight people.

"International trade is at the heart of our economy and our food and drink industry has a crucial role to play. That is why we have launched our ambitious plan to boost our exports by £3 billion over the next five years."

Starting with a tour of the Glenmorangie bottling plant in Livingston where the famous single malt is prepared for consumers, the Environment Secretary also visited one of the country’s much-loved independent food companies, Paterson Arran, to host a roundtable with key Scottish food and drink businesses.

Scotland’s world famous food and drink is vital to the UK economy, worth £5.5 billion last year and 30 per cent of the UK’s total food and drink exports. Whisky accounts for £3.9bn of exports, while Scottish fish and seafood was worth £553m last year.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, deputy chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association said:

"Today’s meeting with the Environment Secretary was worthwhile and timely, including our discussion on the opportunities and challenges of Brexit for Scotch Whisky. Scotch is a British success story – the single biggest net contributor to the UK trade balance in goods - but there is more we can do to grow exports in collaboration with Defra and other sectors.

"We welcomed the chance to talk about the importance of continued moves towards a fairer and competitive excise duty regime in the UK. Looking overseas, we would like to see new free trade deals which provide a boost to Scotch in a range of markets, including India, where further growth is being held back by the 150% import tariff."

The new International Action Plan is a key strand of the Government’s Great British Food campaign, which was introduced to celebrate our world-class food industry and culture, drive growth and jobs in the sector, and establish Britain’s reputation as a great food nation.

The Great British Food Unit which was launched earlier this year to promote exports, support inward investment and champion the excellence of British food and drink at home and abroad will support industry to achieve the targets set out in the plan.

Trade Minister Lord Price, who also visited Scotland today to meet business leaders at Scottish Development International, said:

"Scotland has always had a global outlook, with over 60 per cent of its exports going outside the EU, and burgeoning relationships with growing markets like Thailand.

"There are big opportunities out there for Scottish businesses, not just in areas like whisky where Scotland is known throughout the world, but also in new sectors like renewable energy and life sciences. As we develop new trading relationships, I want to ensure all the UK nations have a voice at the heart of our discussions so we can build on our proud trading history to create jobs and prosperity."