British Ambassadors call for more brand Britain wine and spirits at overseas events

The UK’s Ambassadors and senior diplomats want greater support to serve more English wine and British gin at receptions and celebrations to plug our great British drinks industry.

To further persuade dignitaries to fly the flag for the British drinks industry the WSTA joined forces with the FCO to serve only drinks produced in the UK at the annual reception for overseas diplomats.

For the fourth year running the WSTA arranged for the best of British gin and the finest English fizz to take centre stage at the event - sending out a strong message to serve British.

A survey revealed that “availability” was the biggest stumbling block for diplomats trying to showcase British drinks at their events.

One diplomat commented: “We would very much like to serve a much wider range of gin and more English wine but are often prevented by a lack of availability and ability to import at a reasonable price.”

Sir Simon McDonald, the UK’s top diplomat at the Head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has called for a more concerted effort to encourage UK representatives to “serve British at home and abroad.”

Sir Simon said:

“I am delighted the WSTA once again supported our event - our home-grown spirits and wine sector is flourishing but I would like us to be able to do more.

“Our wine and gin exports are increasingly prestigious, and are now respectively the UK’s the fifth and sixth largest food and drink exports by value. By serving English wine and British gin at our embassies and missions wherever possible, we can help promote the sector and create more jobs and growth.”

The gathered dignitaries also heard from the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who attended the British drinks reception to hand out awards to diplomats.

Ambassadors, High Commissioners, senior diplomats and dignitaries were invited to taste some established and new to the market world class home-grown drinks.

With English wine and British gin now proven as world class products the WSTA hope these influential guests will spread the word through state receptions across the globe.

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“It was encouraging to hear that more homegrown wine and spirits are being served at British diplomatic service receptions - both home and abroad - since the WSTA began showcasing a range of English sparkling wines and British gins at the FCO’s annual London reception.

"But the strong message coming back to us is that whilst the will is there to serve British it’s not always that easy to get products to far away locations. The WSTA has pledged to continue helping to bridge the gap between demand and supply – not least because our wine and spirit producers need support to achieve their full potential, especially in export markets.

"With all the current challenges to international trade, it is even more crucial that our Ambassadors and High Commissioners are flying the flag for our quality British gin and English wine and raising the profile for brand Britain’s premium products.”

In 2018 over 73 million bottles of gin, worth over £2 billion, were sold in the UK, almost doubling in value in two years.

Last year was also a record-breaking year for British gin exports as sales of the quintessentially British spirit abroad reached over £600 million.

More and more nations are clamouring for the sought-after spirit, with 139 countries now bulk buying British gin.

If you add exports to sales at home, it adds up to over £2.7bn - putting British gin within touching distance of becoming a £3 billion industry.

In 2018 HMRC records showed that the number of distilleries in England overtook distilleries registered in Scotland for the first time.

There are a total of 361 distilleries making spirits in the UK, with 54 opening in 2018 – the equivalent of one a week. 166 distilleries are in England, 160 in Scotland, 19 in Wales and 16 in Northern Ireland.

Last year was also a standout year for English wine as the heatwave meant a vintage year for both quality and quantity, with a record-breaking yield equating to 15.6 million bottles of still and sparkling wine. This compares to 5.9 million in 2017.

The UK wine industry is proving to be one of the fastest expanding wine regions in the world after seeing the biggest planting of vines on record this year.

The latest planting figures show that around 3 million vines were planted this year, a 24% increase in the overall land now under vine. This is nearly double that planted last year and three times the 1 million vines planted in 2017, making the wine industry one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the UK.

On offer at the reception, which was well attended by dignitaries on Tuesday, 11th June, were four different English sparkling wines and six different British gins.

All of the brands have one thing in common in addition to their collective excellence – all products on offer on the night were from producers looking to expand their export markets.
The WSTA represents an industry worth around £50 billion to the UK and supports over half a million British jobs. 

English and Welsh whisky is flying off the shelves ahead of Father’s Day

English and Welsh whisky makers are struggling to keep up with demand for the sought-after spirit after first releases sell out overnight.

In the run up to Father’s Day, some English whisky makers have found themselves out of stock after selling out almost immediately on release, meaning that any dads receiving English whisky as a gift this weekend should count themselves very lucky indeed.

With new-make spirit needing to be matured for a minimum of three years in wooden casks before it can legally be termed ‘whisky’, the enormous interest in English whisky is good news for producers who began crafting the spirit several years ago.

The “ginnaisance” has attracted a whole new audience of people keen to try new spirit experiences meaning investors have been more willing to invest in craft distilleries allowing an English and Welsh whisky market to emerge.

Ashley Hunka from East London Liquor Company said:

“We sold out of our first release of London Rye® Whisky as soon as we released it in December and had to limit sales to one per person. Not to worry, we’re continuing to make more, but instead of a bottle of whisky this Father’s Day, we’ll be offering both gin and whisky tours throughout the day.”

Karl Bond founder of Forest Distillery said:

“We have just started our journey in whisky making and have only produced a small amount so far. However, what I can tell you is that our first 2 releases sold out within 24 hours.”

Adnams have got whisky available but you need to get in quick for a last-minute Father’s Day gift because their exports are on the up.

Adnams Head Distiller John McCarthy said:

“We produce our whisky from our state-of-the-art Copper House distillery in Southwold. We have seen a growth in our export of whisky made from locally sourced grains. All our releases are a minimum of five years old. Adnams exported three times the amount of our spirits in 2018 as in 2017 and more than 22,000 people took a distillery and/or brewery tour or signed up to make your own gin last year.”

Dan Szor, founder of Cotswolds Distillery, says they have had to up their production to keep up with demand, he said:

“We are now listed in Waitrose and approaching 1,000 Greene King Pubs, testament to the fact that major retailers in both the on and off trade see this as a category to back. Our whisky is now available in 31 countries globally, from a standing start in October 2018, and we have increased our bottling by 25% in 2019 to keep up with demand.’

Welsh whisky makers Penderyn have a large expansion programme in place in order to keep up with growing demand.

Stephen Davies, Penderyn CEO said:
“We have introduced two new lines this year, Penderyn Grand Slam 2019 Edition and Royal Welsh Whisky, and demand for our products is increasing year on year. Penderyn’s sales went up by 17% in 2018, and we now export to around 40 different countries.”

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“If you are lucky enough to get hold of a bottle of English whisky on Father’s Day we hope you treasure it. The UK spirits industry is a real success story and Britain now boasts 361 distilleries with a wave of exciting new Welsh and English distillery projects. Our innovative and skilled spirit makers should be encouraged to invest and increase production, so the Chancellor can start by redressing the UK’s excessively high duty rates. Some consumers will be surprised to hear that they pay a whopping £8.05 on duty per 700 ml bottle of whisky at 40% abv. We hope the next Chancellor, whoever that may be, supports our great British distiller’s by reducing duty rates.”

Last year the WSTA launched an English and Welsh Whisky Trail to celebrate the growth of a sector that lay dormant for more than a century.
English whisky dates back to at least the 17th Century, but dried up when the last producer closed their distillery doors back in the early 1900’s. The English whisky drought ended 100 years later when a Cornish distiller decided to revive the craft.
Inspired by the success of the London and Scotland Gin Trails as well as our English wine trail, our team have drawn up a map showing the rapid spread of whisky makers in England and Wales.
361 distilleries - of which 166 are in England compared to 160 distilleries based in Scotland.

For centuries Scotland has dominated the spirit making world thanks to the popularity and rich history of Scotch Whisky.

However, the gin boom has helped the number of UK distilleries to more than double in the last five years with HMRC issuing 31 new distillery licences in England in 2018 compared to just 11 in Scotland.

Today, there are at least 20 distilleries across England and Wales producing whisky.

Both Scottish and English whisky production is governed by EU regulations, although Scotland has an additional, much tighter layer of control – the Scotch Whisky Regulations.

This allows whisky producers in England great freedom to innovate – whilst some favour traditional Forsyths stills used in Scotch production, some distilleries are turning to different stills, and when paired with an assortment of grains and casks, the revitalised English whisky sector has the potential to create new, unique and exciting whiskies.

WSTA calls on Michael Gove to resist including glass in a deposit return scheme to prevent more polluting plastic being used in packaging

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has this week submitted a strong objection to a Defra consultation over including glass in a deposit return scheme (DRS), arguing there are better ways to boost recycling in England and Wales.

Instead the costly and unnecessary move could drive producers to use more, cheaper to recycle, plastic packaging which would completely undermine what campaigners had hoped to achieve.

The WSTA estimates that by including glass in a new DRS initiative would cost consumers around £280 million over the next five years.

In 2018 around 1.7 billion glass bottles of wine and spirits were sold in the UK. If Westminster copied Scotland and glass was lumped into a new deposit return scheme, it would mean each bottle would cost at least an extra 3.3p surcharge, a cost which ultimately would land with the consumer. Add this together with a 20p refundable deposit per bottle, we would see an average bottle of wine, currently £5.84, rise to £6.08.

Over the next five years the WSTA estimates around 8.5 million bottles of wine and spirits will be sold in the UK leaving Brits facing a £280 million bottle bill.

The price hike would be another bitter blow to wine drinkers who were singled out for a duty rise by the Chancellor at the last Budget. From February 1st this year the duty rate on still wine has increased by 7p to £2.23, and on sparkling by 9p to £2.86.

The extra cost to the consumer could be avoided if Government looked to improving kerbside collections.

In its submission to the Defra consultation the WSTA argues that glass is 100% recyclable, it does not present the same threat to wildlife as plastic, is largely inert, made from natural materials, and easily available.

Wine and spirit producers have made significant environmental strides in recent years, reducing glass per bottle by up to 60% over the last decade – and exceeding EU glass recycling targets at the same time.

The WSTA highlighted that glass bottles are brittle and much heavier than plastic and the evidence shows that this makes it more difficult for those without a car and for the elderly and disabled to return bottles.

It argues that including glass is a regressive move that will drive producers and retailers to review their glass bottle portfolio and could lead to more plastic packaging.

However, if the focus was on improving existing kerbside collections this will ease the burden on businesses and consumers and will require fewer car journeys and would mean lower CO2 emissions.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

“The WSTA has long argued that there is no evidence to support the inclusion of glass in the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). What is clear is that including glass drastically increases costs which ultimately will end up being paid for by the consumer.

One of the major concerns is that by including glass the Government would drive producers and retailers into moving away from glass and finding other solutions and actually increasing plastic pollution.

The UK already exceeds EU recycling targets for glass and Michael Gove must question whether it would be significantly more cost-effective with greater environmental gains to exempt glass from DRS and improve kerbside collection instead.”

WSTA debate ~ Brexit and Beyond ~ at the London Wine Fair

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is hosting a “Brexit” debate at this year's London Wine Fair to help the industry fathom the future of its trading landscape.

Last year’s debate focused on how to minimise disruption leaving the European Union. A year on, and with the Government having failed to deliver Brexit, a panel of industry experts will once again offer their expertise on preparing for every scenario and for life after Brexit.

The headline issues being discussed will include the current state of the UK wine market, an update on the Brexit negotiations and how each outcome will impact for the UK wine sector.

This year’s top team of panelists include: Dan Jago, Chairman of the WSTA; Michelle Brampton, Managing Director, Europe at Treasury Wine Estates; Andrew Hawes, Managing Director, Mentzendorff; and Ed Baker Finance Director of Kingsland Drinks.

Representing wine businesses from across the globe, the speakers will look ahead to the challenges and opportunities for the sector over the next 3-5 years, including potential pitfalls and golden opportunities.

WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale, will introduce and moderate the discussion and Q&A; “Brexit and Beyond”, which will take place at 10.30am on Monday, 20th May in the London Room at Olympia.

Commenting on the debate, Miles Beale said:

“Since the referendum result the WSTA has supported the Government’s aim to deliver a Brexit deal that works for business and consumers. In particular we have actively campaigned for an outcome that delivers a free flow of trade in wine and spirits. The WSTA has been frank in its view that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be extremely bad news for the UK’s wine and spirit trade.

“Government and Parliament have both failed to generate a proposal that delivers Brexit. With political progress marooned on the backstop, it is imperative that UK politicians focus on developing our future trading arrangements with the EU. This matters a lot for the UK, whose wine market is unique in its position as global wine trading hub.

“The Government and this Parliament must do better. The lack of clarity in this and many other aspects of Brexit needs addressing fast. Failure to reach an agreement in Parliament means we will again be hurtling towards a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome on October 31st - with much less chance of a reprieve. And, frankly, the timing could not be any worse for the wine trade, which will be on the verge of its busiest trading period. Wine businesses will want to be filling every inch of their warehouse space with Christmas stock for their consumers, not using it to stockpile in preparation for a no deal exit from the EU.

“And, of course, what we want to be doing is talking less about the costs and lost opportunities of negotiating Brexit and more about how to make the UK a more attractive market for wine and a better place to do business.

“The London Wine Fair is the perfect place and moment to debate the challenges and opportunities the industry faces; and will help industry to plan for Brexit and beyond.”

Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair, added:

“The effects of the on-going Brexit negotiations on the U.K.’s wine trade have already been significant. Until only a few weeks ago, we were working towards a very different “post-Brexit” debate at the London Wine Fair, in which some semblance of clarity was expected. Next week’s session – the final in a trilogy of Brexit-focused discussions – remains essential for those seeking to navigate through these turbulent times.”

The two previous Brexit Debates were standing room only; to ensure your place for this year, please queue outside the Industry Briefing Room well in advance of the session.

WSTA appoints a new Board member

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has welcomed a new Board member to its top table.

Michelle Brampton, Managing Director, Europe at Treasury Wine Estates, the world’s biggest listed wine company, took her seat at the Board table at the end of April.

Michelle took on the role last year after working for TWE for the last 17 years across a variety of roles. Those have included Chief Financial Officer for Europe and South-East Asia, and most recently she was Commercial Director UK & Ireland.

TWE are custodians of some of the world’s most iconic and award-winning wine brands including Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Beringer.

Her expertise brings into the fold a key player in the global wine trade at a time when Brexit continues to bring so much uncertainty to the UK wine industry.

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“The WSTA continues to fortify its Board team and I am delighted to welcome Michelle to the table.

“The UK wine industry currently faces a tough trading landscape brought on by Brexit uncertainties and punishingly high duty rates. Only by working together can we highlight the importance of the wine and spirit trade to the UK economy and bring about changes which will benefit both businesses and consumers.”

Dan Jago, Chairman of the WSTA, comments:

“I extremely pleased to welcome Michelle to the Board. Her wealth of experience will help strengthen the WSTA executive team. She comes with extensive knowledge of the global wine industry which will help steer the WSTA as they help members through these uncertain and testing times.”

Michelle Brampton, MD, Europe at Treasury Wine Estates:

“I am delighted to join the WSTA board at what is a crucial time for the industry. We are faced with challenges over Brexit but more particularly the government’s attitude to the industry over taxation. I am looking forward to working with the board to help frame our position and really effectively engage with these key stakeholders moving forward.”

Prior to working in the wine industry Michelle was a management consultant for Arthur Andersen and worked in various commercial finance roles for the likes of Sony and Muller Dairy.


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