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The Grapevine

The WSTA's views, distilled.

Yearly gin exports reach £500m

There are many (us) in the industry who have been predicting this point will come for some time now. There are also others (us again) who have been predicting gin in the UK will be a £2bn industry by the end of 2018 and, now that exports have reached such a landmark, this seems inevitable. And there are some (everyone, including us) who have seen the rise of UK sales grow and grow waiting for something to occur that will check the industry’s meteoric rise. Until now the UK gin industry has never much resembled a tidal wave crashing onto land but more of lapping shore line as it approaches full tide, with strong but consistent growth rather than an explosion. But with accelerating growth in the UK gin market and now in UK exports, more, not less, speculation will surely occur about the fate of the juniper spirit.

As always, the facts come first, courtesy of HMRC. The UK has achieved £500m in yearly gin exports for the first time - £532.4m to be exact – representing a 12% increase on 2016. Key markets for gin regionally are North America – which passed £200m for the first time - the EU – which grew by 16% and remains by a distance the largest import region – and, though a smaller market but one with lots of potential, Asia and Oceania (see below). This further strengthens our export strategy that this year is targeting Asia and the East Coast of North America in particular (ask Rob for more details on how to get involved).

 

Value £

Region

2016

2018

% chg

EU

218,105,915

253,776,937

16%

Asia and Oceania

28,185,392

31,721,496

13%

E. Europe

1,667,126

1,896,476

14%

Latin and C. America

9,097,221

11,451,908

26%

Middle East and N Africa

7,058,845

9,402,925

33%

North America

193,273,104

206,125,315

7%

Sub-Saharan Africa

5,682,507

7,014,024

23%

Western Europe exc EC

10,622,239

10,951,421

3%

Stores and Provisions

39,879

71,241

79%

Non-EU

255,626,313

278,634,806

9%

Total

473,732,228

532,411,743

12%

 

The USA remains the world’s bigliest importer of UK gin, importing £184m worth in a year to November 2017, up very nearly £12m on last year, #MAGA one G&T at a time. Signs are that gin sales by volume in the US is broadly flat but value sales have increased around 8%, indicating US consumers are enjoying more premium brands, which plays well with exporting UK’s growing number of available gins and the WSTA’s ambitious gin-producing members attending our trade missions. You’re welcome Mr. President.

Another landmark: £100m worth of exports in 12 months to Spain for the first time, up nearly £7m on 2016. Spain is by far UK gin’s top EU market, importing more than the five next biggest markets - Germany, Italy, France, Greece and Belgium - combined (£94.5m). The 7% increase in gin exports to Spain is encouraging and part of a clear trend in there that mirrors the UK domestic sales experience; by value sales have increased by 40% in the last five years, over a third by volume. This indicates that, whilst Spain has been and remains a key market for UK gin, there is still a lot of head room for exports as long as exporting to the EU remains as unhindered as possible after Brexit, something that was brought into question last week but is crucial for gin as well as other goods.

If it were @optawine’s job to predict things, it would say that there are more landmarks ahead (the £2bn mark (domestic sales + exports) is tantalising close at £1.8bn as it stands but next month’s market report will reveal more). Export trends tend to follow domestic ones so, following on from the accelerated growth in the UK market, we might expect faster export growth in the coming years, which makes the idea of gin exports a £1bn industry within the next decade a real possibility. A slowdown in gin sales and exports is inevitable, it seems glib to even suggest that given these export figures, but there are currently no signs of it so we can only expect further and fast growth in exports in the years to come.

 

So all is well in the gin industry which has casually brushed aside difficult domestic market conditions to continue increasing growth and is fast becoming a key driving force in UK food and drink exports. The tonic and lemon industry can thank us later.

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