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Imported whisky is UK’s ‘stand-out’ performer

Despite stagnant spirits volumes in the UK over the past 12 months, imported whisky is emerging as a “stand-out” category, according to latest figures by the WSTA.

Imported whisky has been identified as an emerging “stand-out” performer in the UK’s spirits industry

In its recent market report, looking at the UK’s on- and off-trade wine and spirits market, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association said that the past 12 months had been a “mixed trading period”, with declining volumes but “largely positive” value growth.

Sales of wine and spirits in pubs, bars and restaurants were described as “flat”, yet volume sales of imported whisky grew by 9% in the on-trade.

Also in the on-trade, malt whisky sales soared 20% in the last 12 months, while rum and gin grew by 6% and 4% respectively over the past 12 weeks.

However, in the same short-term period, sales of vodka, blended Scotch and liqueurs all declined.

In the off-trade spirits sales declined by 1% overall in the past year, with further strong growth in imported whisky offset by a fall in sales of blended whisky, which dropped 3%.

The report also revealed wine and spirits sales now make up 41.45% of the value of all drinks sold in pubs, bars and restaurants.

“Despite stagnant sales volumes, members – and the trade in general – will be buoyed by signs of improving consumer confidence,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.

“The growth of sparkling wine shows no sign of abating, while imported whisky is emerging as a stand-out spirits performer.”

The positive value growth in the sector could be attributed to a continuing trend of premiumisation, as the WSTA said Nielson data shows many consumers are moving towards higher-priced products.

WSTA also said its latest report analyses the UK’s alcohol market to 26 April 2014, meaning it could not assess the impact of the government’s recent scrapping of the alcohol duty escalator.

The report draws on data from sources including Nielsen, CGA Strategy and the Wilson Drinks Report.

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