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U.S. Growth Drives Scotch Whisky Export Value Up By Double-Digits

September 5, 2013

Scotch whisky exports to the U.S. market surged in the first six months of 2013, driven by premiumization. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch exports to the U.S. leapt 29% by value to £391 million ($611m) and jumped 10% by volume to 61.8 million bottles in the first half of the year.

Price increases and a more upscale product mix have been behind Scotch’s soaring value growth in the U.S. In the 12 months through June, Diageo brands Johnnie Walker and Buchanan’s, for example, posted North American value growth of 12% and 19% respectively, well ahead of their respective volume increases of 5% and 13%. Upscale variants like Johnnie Walker Black and Blue Label led the migration up the pricing ladder. In recent weeks, Diageo launched another ultra-premium whisky, Platinum, under the Johnnie Walker banner, retailing at around $110 a bottle.

The vibrant single malt segment has also been a prime contributor to Scotch’s premiumization dynamic in the U.S. Despite a slow economy over the past half-decade, the U.S. single malt category has expanded by nearly 30% since 2008, rising 8% to 1.2 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank. Single malt now accounts for more than 15% of total U.S. Scotch volume—up from less than 12% in 2008 and 7% in 2000—while only comprising about 6% of global Scotch volume. Leading players like The Glenlivet (+9% to 361,000 cases in 2012), The Macallan (+9% to 159,000 cases), Glenfiddich (+8% to 129,000 cases) and Glenmorangie (+30% to 92,000 cases) have all been participating in single malt’s U.S. upswing.

Scotch whisky’s strength in the U.S. market during the first half of 2013 complemented ongoing gains in Latin American countries like Mexico (value up 67%), Brazil (+42%) and Panama (+86%), and solid performances in established markets like France (+6%), Spain (+11%) and Germany (+28%). Rising shipments in those areas offset value declines in Asian markets like Taiwan (-18%), South Korea (-9%), India (-2%), Japan (-13%) and China (-20%). Globally, Scotch export value rose 11% to nearly £2 billion ($3.1b) in the first half, while volume increased 9% to 563 million bottles.

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