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WSTA welcomes Government consultation on UK recycling

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association welcome’s the Government’s consultation on how best to improve bottle recycling in the UK.

However, the WSTA does not believe glass should be included in the DRS scheme and argues that kerbside collection is better for the consumer, businesses and the environment.

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

“We welcome the Government’s intention to tackle waste and improve recycling.

The UK wine and spirit industry has, for some years now, been working hard - and successfully - to reduce its impact on the environment, for example by shipping in bulk and using substantially less glass in its bottles. These sorts of changes have made a significant impact, and the UK already exceeds glass recycling targets - about 70% of glass packaging in the UK is recycled against a target of only 60%.

We remain unconvinced that glass drinks containers should be included within the scope of the proposed DRS scheme. Glass must be treated differently to plastic - glass cannot be compacted safely and efficiently, unlike plastic, and broken glass is much more likely to cause injury.

The reality is that following years of investment in recycling, councils across the UK already have well-established, trusted and efficient doorstep recycling schemes. Changes to this system, which could instead see consumers themselves burdened with returning glass bottles to point of purchase, are unnecessary. Changes would also pose storage issues for retailers, especially SMEs. Many nations across the world have excluded glass from their DRS systems in favour of kerbside collection, a system that is already working well in the UK.

Including glass in any DRS system would serve only to undermine existing recycling schemes, and would be highly likely to undermine achievements to date. 


Pink drinks are on the up

Valentines Day traditionally sees a surge in sales of pink drinks and this year there are more shades of pink products available than ever before.

2018 was a record year for gin sales with Brits buying 66 million bottles of gin in 12 months, up 41% on the same period the year before and worth over £1.9 billion.

A huge part of the gin surge last year was down to sales of pink and flavoured gin as Britain has seen hundreds of new products coming onto the market.

Flavoured gin has driven over half of all growth in gin sales in the last recorded 12 months, despite only making up one fifth of total sales. Almost three quarters of the flavoured gin sector’s growth has been driven by pink gin. 

Two years ago only a handful of brands were making flavoured gin, then last year the category was valued at £165 million, up a whopping 751% on the same period the previous year.

Research has shown that the explosion in the flavoured and pink gin category comes down to its appeal to consumers under 45.

The category is expected to continue to grow in 2019 as brands are set to launch new flavoured and pink gins on to market.

But it’s not just gin sales that have left drinks producers tickled pink, in 2018 sales of rosé in Britain’s supermarkets, off licences and shops were up on the previous year for the first time in five years.

The WSTA’s latest figures show that Brits bought over 100 million bottles of rosé, in the off trade in the last recorded 12 months, over 2 million more bottles than in the previous year, with value growth of 5%.

After record sales of rosé last year, Aldi supermarket has said they are expecting to sell an impressive 13 million bottles in 2019, enough to fill four Olympic swimming pools.

According to the WSTA’s latest market report although it sells in much larger quantities red wine’s volumes decreased slightly, whilst white wine sales stayed stable.

And in the cocktail category we have seen an explosion in popularity of herbal bitter liqueurs and red-orange aperitif’s mixed with sparkling wine. These drinks served in pretty stem glasses have proved very ‘Instagrammable’ and consumers were keen to share their snaps of the vibrant, colourful cocktails on social media.

During the 2018 heatwave Brits bought over 4 million bottles of non-cream liqueur cocktails from our supermarket’s and shops. Astonishingly the sales were up 56% on the same 12 weeks the year before, the equivalent of an extra 1.4 million extra bottles.

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

“Pink drinks are increasingly popular thanks to our innovative distillers and wine makers who are responding to consumer demands for quality drinks with a splash of colour. We have seen a massive increase in the choices of pink and flavoured gins, there are signs of a renewed fondness in rosé wines and liqueurs like Campari and Aperol mixed with sparkling wine have boosted Brits love of pink cocktails. The introduction of new products combined with a fantastic long hot summer has helped boost the pink category and Valentine’s Day will no doubt see another pink spike. There is no doubt that the pink category has benefited by consumers love for sharing vibrant, colourful drink trends on social media.”

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, comments:

“We usually see a rise in rosé sales as the weather gets warmer and we move into Spring, but recently we’ve started to see an increased demand for rosé all year round, thanks to drinkers who love to post about it on Instagram, and pair it with a variety of foods.

“To meet this rising demand, we’ve stocked our shelves already and are expecting an early rush on sales. Our new Beaujolais style will be joined by our biggest ever rosé collection this Easter, which we’re confident will be incredibly popular with our shoppers.”

British Gin boosted by exports

The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that British gin sales abroad, in 2018, were worth £612 million – up 15% on the previous year.

In 2016 export sales of the juniper-based spirit broke the half a billion-pound mark for the first time and since then the popularity of British gin has seen sales continue to soar.

Thanks to the growing interest in British gin, which has been dubbed the ‘ginaissance’, UK gin exports are worth more than double the sales in 2010, which reached just over £288 million.

Britain sends more gin around the world than it does beef or beer, with gin sales overseas worth 28% more than beer sales.

The USA remains the largest importer of UK gin, with sales to the US worth £191 million, up almost £13 million on 2017. Australia has also caught on to the British gin phenomenon spending
£24.4 million on British gin, twice as much as they did in 2017 when they splashed out £12.2 million.

British Gin sales have also seen a surge in South Africa with £14.5 million sold last year, up from £4.5m in 2017 - a massive 222% increase.

Switzerland is another country where the popularity of British gin is rapidly rising and is now worth £6.6 million up from £4.8 million in 2017, growing by 38%.

By region, the EU is still by far the biggest destination for UK gin worth almost £290 million, with the European market up 14% on 2017.

The WSTA is calling on Government to support British gin exporters and allow them to capitalise on the thirst for all things ‘Brand Britain’ in established and emerging markets.

WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale, said:

“The global thirst for British gin shows no sign of slowing and there is no doubt that those overseas are drawn to the quality of gin made here in the UK. Gin is a quintessentially British spirit, and perfect for anyone looking to tap into Brand Britain overseas.

Europe represents a huge market for British gin, therefore it essential that the UK does not leave the EU without securing a deal which allows frictionless trade.
It is hugely important that Government also secures free trade deals with the rest of the world and we are encouraged by mutual recognition agreements already signed with countries like Australia and Switzerland. However more must be done, and quickly, so that we maintain our position as the world's largest spirits exporter and further boost the UK economy and provide more jobs.”

In a bid to help boost British gin exports further the WSTA is running a programme of export missions showcasing some of our best spirit producers. The WSTA has recently been working with DIT to showcase British gin taking our members on trade missions to Copenhagen, Madrid, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Domestic gin sales recorded in 2018 showed almost 66 million bottles of gin, worth over £1.9 billion, were sold in 12 months, up 41% in volume on the same period the previous year.

England boasts more distilleries than Scotland for the first time

New HMRC figures show the number of distilleries in England has overtaken distilleries registered in Scotland for the first time.

In 2018 the UK recorded a total of 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.

In 2017 Scotland had a total of 149 distilleries beating England’s 135.

The “ginaissance” has meant gin sales in the UK have hit an all-time high helping to fund new distillery bars and visitor centres across the country.

The WSTA’s end of year market report showed a massive boost in gin sales over the summer taking the total UK sales value to over £1.9 billion.

Over 66 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK in 12 months, up 41% and over 19 million more bottles than the same period last year.

According to HMRC we exported £532 million worth British gin this year which is expected to grow even more in 2019 adding to the value of the gin category.

Scotland still boasts some of the largest distilleries in the UK, however, an increasing number of smaller distilleries have emerged across England and Wales many of them diversifying and making new gins, whiskies, vodkas, rums, brandies and liqueurs.

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

“It lifts the spirits to hear that distillery numbers continue to grow in the UK. It’s not just our gins picking up awards, but we have also seen a growing number of excellent quality English and Welsh whiskies too. With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit it is extremely reassuring that our talented spirit makers are continuing to innovate, invest and grow. With England now boasting more distilleries than its Scottish cousins, 2018 really has marked a moment in history. There is a significant amount of money being poured back in to the British spirits industry which has been helped by the Chancellor freezing spirit duty.”

The latest HMRC figures reveal that a total of 54 new distilleries opened in 2018 – eight closed – which means that the number of spirit makers increased by 46 last year. Of the 54 new, 39 were for businesses in England, 11 Scotland, 2 Wales, 2 Northern Ireland.

English wine and beer maker Chapel Down last year branched out into the world of gin making and in March will open their “Chapel Down Gin Works” an experiential bar, restaurant and distillery. The bar in Kings Cross, London centres around the microdistillery’s gin still and incorporate ‘experiential elements’.

Construction has also begun on the Thomas Dakin Gin Distillery in Manchester. The new city centre gin distillery and visitor experience is another example of a distillery which is set to showcase the rich heritage of English gin makers.

UK distillery openings have gone up 210% from 116 since 2010 when the WSTA first started collecting the data – adding 245 in just 8 years.

England had only 23 distilleries in 2010 compared to 166 last year, accounting for 58% of all UK openings in the last eight years.

Chapel Down Managing Director, Mark Harvey, said:

“More and more consumers want to visit the location where their products are made and be informed and entertained by the people who make it happen. There’s nothing like a hands-on experience. Our Winery visits have been a key component behind the success of Chapel Down wines – growing the congregation year on year. And so, following the humbling success of the launch of our new Chapel Down Bacchus Gin, it was a natural next step for us to open a distillery experience, restaurant and bar to enable us to give customers what they want. A great time! And we’re just thrilled we have landed this in the heart of a re-energised King’s Cross, the most connected place in London.”

Chief Executive of the London Distillery Company, Killian O’Sullivan, said:

“2018 was a tremendous year across the board for the UK spirits industry. This growth coupled with the launch of two of our whisky expressions and investment in the development of several new white spirits products has meant that we have had to launch a round of fundraising which will allow us to continue to meet the demand for British spirits both at home and overseas in the years ahead. We now produce horseradish vodka, triple sec and a liqueur in addition to our extensive range of gins and whisky.

Growth in the gin category shows no sign of abating and we were delighted to see a number of English distilleries open in this space. Consumers continue to demand innovation across all spirit categories. Our view is that each of the new English distilleries will bring their own unique style and sense of place to the industry which in turn will drive the innovation that consumers have embraced over the last number of years.”

Warren Scott, CEO of Quintessential Brands Group owners of Thomas Dakin Gin comments;

“We’re in a golden era for quality English gin – it’s never been so popular but it’s origins in the North West of England are little known. The region has been an epicentre of excellence for English gin going back to the 1700’s and continues to produce some of the world’s best-selling gins at G&J Distillers in Warrington. There’s a growing thirst for knowledge when it comes to gin and with our new Thomas Dakin distillery, we are looking forward to breaking new ground in craft gin distilling and also to showing the world the North West’s important place in the colourful history of gin.”

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