UK drinks exports hit £8.3bn

12th April, 2019 by Nicola Carruthers

Exports of UK drinks reached a record high of £8.3 billion (US$10.8bn) in the 12 months to February 2019, boosted by Scotch whisky and gin.

Scotch whisky makes up more than half of all UK beverage exports

Scotch whisky makes up more than half of all UK beverage exports

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released by the Department of Trade, revealed that UK exports of beverages increased by 7%, compared with the same period the previous year. The “unprecedented demand” for wine, spirits and soft drinks has seen exports more than double in the past 15 years.

Total UK exports reached £639.9bn (US$836.2bn) in the year to February 2019, an increase of 3.1%.

The UK witnessed a “healthy” £1.6bn (US$2.06bn) trade surplus in beverages. If the UK never exported drinks, the trade deficit would have been 26.1% greater, according to the data.

Non-EU countries were the top markets for British beverages, making up 63.4% of all exports. There has been a “massive increase in demand” from India and Japan, with exports growing by 49.2% to £179m (US$233.9m) and 23.7% to £188m (US$245m), respectively. The US remains the top destination for UK drinks, increasing by 3.9% to £1.8bn (US$2.3bn).

Secretary of state for international trade, Dr Liam Fox, said: “The UK’s drink industry has global appeal and it’s fantastic to see the sector continue to deliver real tangible economic benefits for the UK. My international economic department stands ready to help businesses of all sizes achieve their exporting ambitions.”

The months of October and November 2018 grew around 23% above the 12-monthly average for drinks exports as consumers “stocked up on Scotch whisky and gin ahead of the festive period”.

Scotch Whisky Association international director Sarah Dickson said: “Scotch whisky continues to blaze a trail for UK exports, making up more than half of all UK beverage exports.

“Last year, 41 bottles of Scotch whisky were shipped from Scotland every second to around 180 global markets, with an export value of £4.7bn. We should be proud that Scotland’s national drink is the world’s premier whisky, enjoyed by millions around the globe.”

Yorkshire-based Spirit of Harrogate has seen an increase in exports for its Slingsby gin across markets including New Zealand, Germany, Malta, Finland, Denmark and Croatia.

“We’re very proud that British gins are being so well received across the world,” said Spirit of Harrogate co-founder Mike Carthy.

“The response from international buyers has been extremely positive, and we look forward to opening up in new markets and developing our brand further afield so that more people can enjoy our award-winning products.”

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