24 Sep

Whisky tots up a success

SCOTCH Whisky has proved its resilience in the face of severe economic difficulties with the value of exports rising a credible 2.3 per cent in the first six months of the year.

Latest figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association show that the value of exports rose £21 million compared with the same period last year.

Single malt whisky continues its international growth, with the value of exports rising 18 per cent to £121m, on the back of a 22 per cent rise in shipments of malt whisky, to more than 22 million bottles.

Blends bottled in Scotland - which make up 80 per cent of export value - also performed well, up 1.5 per cent to £740m.

The upbeat figures provide a welcome fillip to the industry which today unveils a major new tourism initiative with the appointment of a Scotch Whisky tourism development manager.

Ian Good, the chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Given the international troubles, both political and economic, and the subsequent effect on air travel, an increase in the value of Scotch exports during the first half of 2003 is very encouraging.

"If one was looking for themes I think the clear thing is the growth in single malt whisky around the world. The leap in value and volume of malt exports is testament to a growing awareness among consumers of its different styles and characteristics.

"A case in point would be South Korea, which is a deluxe market - nothing is drunk there under a minimum of 12 years old. Taiwan is also exceptional."

Despite the SARS outbreak, the value of exports to key Asian markets increased. South Korea saw the value of exports increase by 10 per cent, and Taiwan also experienced a hefty rise with an increase in the value of exports up 23 per cent from last year.

But Japan continues to be a market in decline. Volumes of exports fell by more than 50 per cent, compared with the first six months of last year, with the value of exports down £22m, or 37 per cent.

Alan Gray, whisky analyst with Sutherlands stockbrokers, said Japan was still very weak, with shipments of bulk malt and grain whisky falling sharply.

Gray said: "Overall the volumes are disappointing but the fact that the Scotch whisky values have risen 2 per cent is a good performance."

In Europe, which makes up 40 per cent of total exports, the French market is still suffering from the economic problems that beset the country.

France took eight million less bottles compared with last year but the value was up slightly.

Germany on the other hand performed well, with export values up 10 per cent.

Gray added: "The French market is still three and a half times the size of the German market.

" I think the export figures reflect the mature nature of the French market and the growth in Germany. Europe aside, Latin America is also experiencing a severe economic downturn - on the back of that a 1 per cent decrease in volume is credible."

There are also promising signs that China is beginning to develop a taste for Scotch Whisky. The value of Scotch exports to China for the six-month period increased by more than £2m in comparison to 2002, a jump of some 160 per cent.

Gray added: "An encouraging sign is America, where volume and value is up. If you take the view that the American market is in steady decline then it is a positive development."

Article Courtesy of The Scotsman