By Andy Young
The value of Scotch whisky exports to Australia increased in value in 2016, according to figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
The volume of exports actually decreased, which highlights the premiumisation trend which has long been a factor of Australia’s overall alcohol market.
At £100m Australia is, by value, the ninth largest export market for Scotch whisky and that amount is up by 11.7 per cent on 2015. The volume of Scotch whisky exported here was 29m bottles in 2016, a drop of 4.3 per cent on the previous year.
Globally Scotch exports increased last year by four per cent to more than £4bn, with the value of single malts exceeding £1bn for the first time, up by 12 per cent to £1.02bn.
In terms of regions, the European Union remains the top destination for exports, worth around £1.2bn of the total. North America is the second largest, taking exports worth more than £1bn, followed by Asia with shipments of £768m.
The USA remains the number one market by value, growing 14% to reach £865m, while France is the largest volume market with 190m bottles, up by 7.8 per cent.
While the SWA said these numbers help make it optimistic for the future, there are concerns over what the implications of the UK's Brexit vote will be for the industry.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive, said: "With Scotch Whisky exports returning to growth and rising to more than £4 billion, and Single Malts exceeding £1bn for the first time, we're feeling optimistic about the future.
"Demand is rising in mature markets, such as the USA, and newer markets, including China. This confidence is reflected in the number of new distilleries – 14 have been opened in the last few years and we know of about another 40 in at various stages of planning.
"However, we have to be alert to the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of Brexit and political changes in the UK and across the globe. Industry success can't be taken for granted and we need both the UK and Scottish Governments to work in partnership with us to deliver a business environment – at home and overseas – that supports sustainable growth.
"At home, for example, we are calling for a 'sector deal' for Scotch as the new UK industrial strategy develops, recognising our economic significance to communities across the country. And we have clearly set out our objectives for Brexit to support jobs and growth in the industry in an increasingly competitive global market."