Scotch Whisky Exports Dropped in Volume, Rose in Value in 2012

Scotch whisky exports dropped in volume last year while rising in value as demand in the U.S., the most lucrative market for the drink, made up for a decline in the number of bottles shipped to France.

Export volume fell 5 percent to 1.19 billion bottles, while their value rose 1 percent to 4.27 billion pounds ($6.5 billion), according to figures from the Scotch Whisky Association in Edinburgh. The sales represented about a quarter of Britain’s food and drink exports, the trade organization said today in an e-mailed statement.

The largest exporters of the spirit are Diageo Plc and Pernod Ricard SA, which are both increasing capacity by expanding and reopening distilleries. Whisky producers together are spending 2 billion pounds on investment over the next three to four years, the association said.

“There is confidence in the future of the industry,” Gavin Hewitt, chief executive officer of the association, said in the statement. “New distilleries have opened and older ones brought back to use to meet rising demand.”

Economic difficulties in key markets affected revenue. In France, which accounts for the most bottles of any export market, the volume of sales fell 25 percent after importers stocked up in 2011 ahead of tax changes. Their value declined 19 percent to 434 million pounds.

The biggest market by value remained the U.S. Last year, it imported 758 million pounds of Scotch, a rise of 16 percent. Volumes declined 2 percent. One of whisky’s fastest-growing markets is Mexico, increasing by 14 percent to 92 million pounds last year, the association said.

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