Beam Suntory considers raising Bourbon prices in EU

24th September, 2018 by Melita Kiely

Beam Suntory has confirmed it is considering raising the prices of its Bourbon brands in the EU next year if tariff increases are not revoked.

Jim Beam

Suntory’s Bourbon portfolio includes Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark

Suntory’s contemplation comes after the EU introduced retaliatory tariffs on €2.8 billion (US$3.3bn) worth of US products in June, including a 25% increase on American whiskey.

The move by the European Commission was in response to US president Trump’s decision earlier this year to impose tariffs of 25% for steel and 10% for aluminium imported into the US. The duties were raised on 1 June, affecting the EU, Canada, Mexico and India.

As a result, Suntory is exploring the possibility of raising the cost of its Bourbon brands in the EU, such as Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, if the tariff trade war is not resolved soon.

A spokesman for Suntory said: “We hope that the US and its trading partners will continue to work towards solutions that avoid or reverse the imposition of retaliatory tariffs.

“Where retaliatory tariffs have been imposed, we will work hard to minimise the impact to customers.”

In June, Brown-Forman – which makes Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester whiskeys – confirmed prices of its American whiskey and Bourbon brands would go up as a direct result of the tariffs. This equated to a 10% price jump in EU markets where the company owns distribution.

At the start of July, Canada slapped a 10% tariff on American whiskey due to Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs.

Later that same month, China imposed a 25% tariff on American whiskey in response to the US adding tariffs to an extra US$34 billion worth of Chinese products, sparking the “largest trade war in economic history”.

The US has challenged the introduction of tariffs by China, the EU, Canada, Mexico and Turkey, and filed five disputes with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in July, arguing the tariffs were “unjustified” and “illegal”.

At the end of July, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) hosted The W8 – Spirit of Collaboration Summit in Kentucky, which saw nine leading whisk(e)y groups meet to discuss “collaborative solutions” to the ongoing trade wards, which have left American whiskey in the firing line.

Turkey became the latest nation to join the tariff war when it imposed a 140% tariff on all US-made alcoholic products in August, after the US doubled tariffs over Turkey’s refusal to free US pastor Andrew Brunson, who is currently imprisoned there.

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