Spirits: a most valuable agri-food export

Despite a dip in 2014, EU spirits exports have doubled over the last decade to almost €10 billion contributing to a positive net trade balance of €8.3bn to the EU.

High value local and iconic European spirits are sold around the world with the US remaining the largest export market.

So states European trade body spiritsEurope, which represents the European agri-food sector, in Growth driver: trade, trade, trade…, a new report detailing the sector’s export track-record.

However South East Asia is the fastest-growing region and while the African adventure is really only beginning, the increasing wealth of a growing middle class there offers new opportunities.

At €9.6 billion, the value of spirits exports from the European Union is down 3.8% on last year’s €10 billion figure but Eurostat data show that spirits exports remain strong.

Of the €9.6 billion EU export figure, whiskies are worth €4.2 billion, Cognacs €2.3bn, vodka €993 million, liqueurs €967m, gins €315m and rums €135m.

Spirits accounted for 31% of food exports outside the EU in 2014 while wines accounted for 29%. Malted beers accounted for 9%.

This export performance makes a significant contribution to the economy of European Member States in growth and jobs and spiritsEurope seized the occasion of this report to set out its hopes for the new EU trade strategy.

“With declining consumption in the European Union, the opportunities for spirits growth are mainly outside the EU,” commented Paul Skehan, Director General of spiritsEurope, “There are many untapped markets that offer huge potential such as China and India where consumption of imported products is less than 1% compared to 99% for domestic Indian products.

“Spirits are flying the European flag abroad,” he added, “but we can achieve much more. The new Trade Strategy should help ensure the long-term success of the European spirits sector. The elimination of high import tariffs and other barriers such as discriminatory tax policies, insufficient IP protection or complex custom procedures need to be addressed through the conclusion of further Trade Agreements with our main trading partners, a reinforced market access strategy and credible enforcement mechanisms.  Lifting barriers through an ambitious EU strategy will not only benefit larger enterprises but also craft and micro-distillers.”


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