Whiskies 45% of EU spirit exports

The spirits sector remains one of the EU’s most valuable agri-food export categories at €10.2 billion, just behind wine according to spiritsEurope in its 2017 Trade Review, just published.

Some €22.7 billion is collected in VAT and excise by the various national Exchequers comprising the EU-28 with production and sales in this sector employing one million people

Whiskies comprise the largest category in the spirits sector taking up 45% of total spirits exports while the Cognac category is responsible for 30% and vodka and liqueurs 10% each. Gin has a share of 4% of all EU Spirits exports.

According to the Review, “European exports surged ahead by 5% in 2016, an excellent result which confirms the rebound of 2015 and demonstrates that exports are driving the growth of our sector. The spirits sector generated a positive trade balance of €8.7 billion. However, as some of those sales were generated in Sterling and that currency has devalued against the €uro, overall exports expressed only in €uros have decreased year-on-year”.

While Western Europe showed a decline of 0.1% in spirits consumption, other regions such as Africa/Middle East showed consumption growth of 5.8% while spirits consumption in Central and South America grew by 4.4%.

Eurostat figures indicate that the US is the EU’s biggest export market worth €4.05 billion in 2016, up 6% on 2015. EU spirits exports to the US comprise one-third of total EU spirits exports.

“It continues to grow for all players in the industry” states the Review, “including smaller and medium-size companies. We have been able to build a strong footprint in the US where we enjoy a zero tariff and a relatively smooth access.” However spiritsEurope warns, “The recent shift in the US approach on trade policy adds a wildcard into the mix.

“A tougher trader posture would significantly impact our trade relationship with the US.”

Again, the whiskey category is the largest of the EU’s spirits exports to the US with Cognac coming next at 29%. While vodka forms 16%, liqueurs form 13% and gins 6%.

Surprisingly, Singapore is the second-largest export market for EU spirits at €843 million (down 2% on 2015). China represents the EU’s third-largest spirits export market at €479 million, up 16% on 2015. Here, Cognac forms by far the largest spirits market category at 83% of EU spirit exports with whiskies a long way second at just 12.5%. At 0.5%, export sales of gin are relatively negligible.

Russia takes fourth place at €358m (down 6%). In fifth place Canada was responsible for €316m of EU spirits exports in 2016, down 7%.

The Review also refers to the upcoming Brexit situation, noting that the UK exports some €2.06 billion-worth of spirits into the EU while it imports just €583 million of it from the EU.



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