UK alcohol exports highest since records began

6th June 2017

We all know that us Brits like a good tipple. Or two, or three…

And it’s not just us that like what we brew, it seems the rest of the world does too.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its implications for the food and drink industry, the first quarter of 2017 was positive for UK food and drink exports, with alcohol exports being at their highest since records began.

Alcohol exports have rocketed. Out of the top ten products exported in 2017, four have been alcohol. Whisky being worth £80.7m, beer – £1.39m, wine – £1.33m and gin – £108.3m respectively.

In 2016, British beer exports increased by 6% according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA). Exports to China increased by 500%, to India by 417% and EU exports by 6%.

In 2016, a total of 1.05 billion pints of beer were exported, making beer the third most valuable export of food and drink.

Since 2015, exports of beer have increased by £84m – now with a 2017 value of £584 million.

To further enhance growth of beer exports, the BBPA is calling for the UK Government to make additional tax cuts after last year’s freeze on alcohol duty, following the 2015 WSTA (Wine and Spirit Trade Association) ‘drop the duty’ campaign. The campaign called for a 2% cut in alcohol duty which resulted in the best budget result in the industry for over 20 years.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said in a press release:  “The Chancellor was right to listen! New HMRC figures show the positive impact a duty cut has had for the wider economy – including the Treasury’s coffers!

“And we hope it’s the start of a new attitude to a great British industry. Duty rates on wine and spirits remain notoriously high in comparison with our European counterparts – with almost 40% of all alcohol duty collected across 28 EU Member States collected here in the UK.

“This is unfair on British consumers and damages great British businesses, especially micro businesses and SMEs.”

British gin exports have also reached record levels, worth £473m, a rise of 12%, surpassing exports of soft drinks and British beef.

Food and drink exports overall grew by 8.3% from 2016 to £4.9 billion in the first quarter, making it the largest ‘first quarter exports value’ since records began.

The growth of gin seems to be a continued trend with exports rising by £114m, or 32% over the past five years in total. Domestic gin consumption and the rise of new gin distilleries have contributed to its growth.

Gin exports by end Q1, 2017 have hit £108.3m, meaning by the end of 2017, it could be feasible that figure could be £500m as experts have predicted.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association says, “The quality of the gin combined with the world’s love for brand Britain has seen British gin breaking records both at home and abroad.

“Britain is by far the biggest exporter of spirits in the world.”

Wine has also reached record exports with home-produced fizz being exported to 27 countries. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, nearly 70% of the wine produced in the UK is exported, with Japan, Taiwan, France and Italy being the largest importers.

In the past, wine producers have struggled sue to production costs and competition from other producers across Europe. However due to climate change in the UK and the weather increasing in temperature, conditions are more suitable for producing ripe, resulting in a £100m a year industry.

Vine land in the UK has doubled in recent years, with the UK now boasting over 500 commercial vineyards.

Certain other foods have helped bring the export rate to its highest point including salmon. Surges in sales of the fish have leapt by more than 50% resulting in another UK record of £186.7m in sales.

However, according to Food Manufacture Magazine, growth in manufacturing over the next two years will be ‘sluggish.’ The number of workers needed could potentially fall 0.2% I n 2017 and 0.8% in 2018. This follows an 0.8% rise in the amount of jobs in the industry last year.

By 2024, an additional 140,000 workers will be needed in food and drink to align with population growth, over the next seven years, an increase of 25%






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