Millennium Post

India fastest growing Scotch importer with 28% rise in value to £43 mn

India has emerged as the world’s fastest growing Scotch whisky import market with value up 28 per cent to 43 million pounds. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) released the amount of Scotch whisky sold overseas increased for the first time since 2013, largely thanks to India for registering a massive jump in shipment value.

India has established itself as the third-biggest export market for Scotch at 41 million bottles, marking a 41 per cent increase in sales volumes, after France (90.9 million bottles) and the US (53.1 million bottles). “The growth of exports to India stood out, with value up 28 per cent to 43 million pounds,” the SWA said. The industry body also called on urgent action from the UK government to help realise the full potential of the Indian market.

“The full potential of the Indian market would only be delivered through liberalisation of the exorbitant 150 per cent basic customs duty. We urge the UK government to prioritise discussions with India as it develops its post-Brexit pirorities,” it added. Diageo, a leading UK-headquartered distilling company, recently took over Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits distribution network in India, which is being linked to the sale of 12 million more bottles than last year. Most of that was in bulk, for bottling in India, or blending with Indian whiskies. 

However, India also registered a marked rise, by more than half, in the amount of single malt whisky shipped to India, adding up to more than 700,000 bottles. Scotch, a patent of the Scotland, overall had the equivalent of 533 million bottles shipped from the UK in the first six months of 2016, marking a 3.1 per cent increase. SWA attributes this to an “industry-wide emphasis on craftsmanship and provenance, backed by investment”.

However, Scotch makers are concerned about the impact Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) could have on the whisky. “The first half of 2016 was marked by an improving Scotch whisky export performance, suggesting a strengthening in global consumer demand compared to the last couple of years... It is clear, however, that the uncertainties of the Brexit vote will create challenges for exporters and we continue to encourage early clarity on the likely shape of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and other countries,” said David Frost, chief executive of SWA.

Scotch is a specific term used for whisky made from malted barley through a legally defined process, originating in Scotland. Any bottlers outside Scotland who want to use Scotch whisky as a constituent in a local spirit must first apply for the verification process. Earlier this year, India had ruled against the use of the term “Scotch” and “Scotland” by Indian spirits firms.  

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