Scotch whisky exports climb in 2021, but still shy of pre-pandemic levels – figures

The value of Scotch exports last year came in 19% up on 2020, according to data released by the Scotch Whisky Association today.

While the value of shipments totalled GBP4.51bn ($6.11bn) in 2021, volumes were up 21%, the trade organisation said, reaching the equivalent of 1.38bn 70cl bottles. Latin America and Asia-Pacific were the main growth drivers, delivering value increases of 71% and 21%, respectively.

Exports failed to beat pre-pandemic levels, however, coming in 8% lower than 2019 in value terms.

While chief executive Mark Kent hailed the performance, he also said: “This is no time for complacency. The industry continues to face global challenges, including ongoing trade disruption, growing supply chain costs and inflationary pressures. Undoubtedly, there is some road to run before exports return to pre-pandemic levels.”

According to the SWA’s figures, France consumed the most Scotch by volume last year, importing 176m 70cl bottles. The US ranked third, behind India, at 126m bottles. The US market was the strongest performer in value terms, however, at GBP789.9m ($1.07bn). The figure far surpasses France, whose value imports totalled GBP386.m.

Both the US and Europe demonstrated growth of 8% in 2021. In total, the EU’s export values were GBP1.36bn, while North America as a whole hit the billion-pound mark.

“The global footprint of the industry in 2021 is a clear sign that the Scotch whisky industry is on the road to recovery,” Kent added. “Value and volume are both up as consumers return to bars and restaurants, people return to travel and tourism, and we all return to a degree of normality after a period of enormous uncertainty for consumers and business.”

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