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Scottish Government announce Deposit Return Scheme for glass

The Scottish Government has today announced the introduction in Scotland of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which will include glass drinks bottles - despite industry concerns that existing glass recycling procedures are both efficient and well-understood. In addition, the proposed fee for the use of glass bottles could encourage even greater use of plastic and so increase environmental damage.

The Scottish Government has proposed the introduction of a surcharge of 20p on bottles which will be refunded only when customers travel to return the bottles to retailers or bottle machines. This raises concerns that the impact of such a scheme will be felt disproportionately by those on the lowest incomes, for example those without cars who will find it harder to comply and so to recoup their deposits fees.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association remains wholly unconvinced that there is evidence to support a DRS including glass on economic or environmental grounds. However, it supports new methods and technologies for improving the recycling of all materials right across the UK; and believes improved kerbside collections are the most cost effective, low emission and equitable method to achieve government’s recycling targets for glass bottles.

 

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

 

“The Scottish Government wants to improve recycling, an aim which we support. The WSTA has long argued that there is no evidence to support the inclusion of glass in the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

Glass is different. It is infinitely recyclable, largely inert and easily available. And it does not cause microplastic pollution. 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.

The Scottish Government’s DRS proposal also fails to recognise the effect a DRS will have on those on lower incomes who, according to the evidence, struggle to engage in recycling. Because the deposit scheme will be applied to all customers and be funded by unreturned deposits, we have concerns that the scheme will be disproportionately funded by customers on lower incomes; and raise, rather than lower, CO2 emissions with more car journeys by those customers who can comply. This risks a less efficient and effective approach that fails to improve recycling rates in Scotland.

Glass bottles are brittle and much heavier than plastic, and so we ask the Scottish Government, and those across the UK considering similar systems, to think about the practical difficulties of returning glass bottles – especially for groups such as the elderly, disabled and those on low incomes. Instead the Scottish government should look again at how to improve existing kerbside collections which are more socially equitable and require fewer car journeys and so lower emissions.

We believe glass is the preferred option for packaging liquids. All UK politicians should recognise this and seek to encourage the use of glass rather than include it in any DRS.”


Sales of rum continue to rise

Sales of rum continue to rise, with almost 35 million bottles sold worth just over £1 billion in 2018.

Total UK spirit sales last year were worth just over £11 billion, with rum the standout performer alongside gin, as Brits’ thirst for new and exciting craft spirits shows no sign of slowing down.

Whilst white rum is still the most popular rum in the off-trade, sales of flavoured and spiced rums are growing fast, with almost 10 million bottles sold in the last 12 months – just over half a million bottles fewer than white rum.

The WSTA’s last Market Report also shows that both the white rum and flavoured & spiced rum categories were worth £137 million over 2018.  

The WSTA is predicting that by the end of 2019, flavoured and spiced rums will knock white rum off top-spot as the most popular type of rum for shoppers picking up their tipple in shops, supermarkets and off-licenses.

Sales of golden and dark rum in pubs, bars and restaurants were also up, with golden rum the most popular choice for drinkers – sales of golden rum were worth £374 million, an increase of 7% on last year.

The latest increase in sales attests to the growing appetite in the UK for rum and the increasing number of brands on the market. In 2006, there were around 50 rum brands on the UK market, but now that number is approaching 200, underlining that UK drinkers’ desire to experiment new and different brands is not confined only to experimenting with gin.

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

“It’s been another great year for rum sales in the UK. British drinkers have more choice than ever before when it comes to rum. Craft spirits are ‘of the moment’, and an increasing number of artisanal spirits producers are crafting their own interpretations of the spirit- often alongside their gin range.

“The decision by the Chancellor last Autumn to freeze spirit duty was the right one, and further supportive action is vital in 2019 to ensure that the craft spirits boom can continue, and British drinkers can continue to enjoy experimenting with their drinks choices.”

Dan Buckland, Co-founder, Drum & Black Rum Co. adds:

"Consumers are becoming more adventurous with their beverage choices, and the more exploration they do, the more knowledgeable they become. They're seeking brands that define them as individuals, and the craft rum movement in the UK is showing more people that rum has the potential as the drink of choice.

"Until now, spiced rums have been associated with lower quality mixing spirits. However, if crafted as a premium sipping rum with an innovative flavour profile, spiced rum can become an accessible alternative for spirit drinkers with more refined tastes as well as a new, exciting luxury drink for those exploring the rum world.

"Whilst Drum & Black and a small number of British rums are actually distilled on home soil, we will see that most new brands rely on bulk imports. I am looking forward to seeing more distilleries open here in the UK. As with the gin movement, this is when we will start to see real creativity in the craft of new British brands."

 

World’s top wine experts ‘blown away’ by English wine and British gin

The world’s top wine experts were taken on a tour and tasting to highlight the best of British gin and English wine, while visiting London for two international conferences last week.

It was the first time at the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) had held a meeting in the UK, prompting the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to show the rest of the world what Britain does best.

In a bid to bring to life the excellent quality of the UK’s home-grown wine and spirits delegates from the WWTG and FIVS broke from their meetings to take part in a study day at an English vineyard and gin distillery and bar.

Bridging meetings of FIVS on Monday and Tuesday and WWTG later in the week the Wine and Spirit Trade Association took delegates first to Rathfinny Estate and winery in Sussex and then on to Chapel Down’s newly opened Gin Works in Kings Cross.

During a tour of Rathfinny the guests, most of whom had never visited an English vineyard, were astounded at the scale of the investment in the estate and world class quality of the sparkling wines launched last year.

The tour was followed by a tasting and a lunch, of locally sourced foods, at the estate’s Flint Barns.  The whole experience allowed experts in the industry and Government representatives from around the world to hear at first hand from Rathfinny’s co-owner Mark Driver his vision for establishing Rathfinny. 

After lunch it was back to London for a tutored spirit tasting hosted by wine, beer and spirit makers Chapel Down.

Chapel Down, whose winery and brewery are based in Kent, have recently ventured into spirit making and opened a distillery, bar and restaurant overlooking the canal in London’s Kings Cross.

Guests sampled two new gins both distilled from grape skins, and one vodka, followed by a glass of Chapel Downs’s English sparkling wine before delegates sat down to a dinner.

The range and quality of Chapel Down’s products served in its state-of-the-art restaurant and bar proved an impressive way to end the day.

Simon Stannard, European and International Affairs Director at the WSTA, said:

“With London hosting two international meetings we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to show off the very best of British.  Many of the delegates attending the FIVS and WWTG meetings, while experienced industry players, had never visited an English vineyard, so this was the perfect opportunity to show them a great British success. 

Delegates were blown away by the quality of the wines at both Rathfinny and Chapel Down as they were with the unique gins on offer at Chapel Down’s Gin Works.  Industry experts, from France, Ukraine, Georgia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, USA, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland were equally impressed with the ambition of both Chapel Down and Rathfinny to promote wine and spirit tourism by offering unique experiences at both venues. 

It was also a great opportunity to highlight the importance of maintaining the UK at the very heart of the world wine trade.”

The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wine and the world’s largest exporter of spirits. Many of the producers from WWTG countries have chosen the UK as their central distribution hub for northern Europe.

The event gave the WSTA a platform to explain to international Government officials and producers the importance of maintaining the UK at the heart of the world’s wine trade. And to discuss practical solutions to keep wine flowing into the UK and beyond after Brexit.

The WSTA last year launched its #NoToNoDeal Campaign - www.dontbottleit.co.uk, which sets out exactly why passing a deal with the EU is so crucial to the prospects of the UK’s world leading wine and spirit industry.

WSTA toasts the sparkling success of English wine on St George’s Day

A record number of English and Welsh sparkling wine was sold in the UK last year with Brits buying 4 million bottles, up 6% on 2017.

UK consumers bought more home-grown fizz than they did sparkling wines from Australia, the US and Germany combined in 2018.

Italy remains top of the pops as the UK’s number one favourite fizz, selling around 117 million bottles in 2018, thanks to Brits’ love of Prosecco, followed by Champagne which sold almost 24 million bottles.

Coming third in the UK’s favourite fizz top ten is Spain, selling over 23 million bottles, mainly Cava, the rest of France (excluding Champagne) sold over 5 million bottles, with the UK coming in fifth.

English winemakers are looking forward to even bigger sales in the next couple of years when wine made from grapes grown in the sweltering summer of 2018 arrives on supermarket shelves.

Last year was a vintage year for both quality and quantity for English and Welsh wines, with a record-breaking 15.6 million bottles of still and sparkling produced. This compares to 5.9 million in 2017.

The English wine industry is reaping the benefits from a huge investment in the sector leading to an increase in vines planted over the last ten years.

1.6m vines were planted – over 1000 acres last year - and vine plantings are expected to exceed the 2million mark in 2019, confirming the UK wine industry as one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the UK.

Last year’s bumper British bottle count comes when UK sales in the sparkling wine category are slowing, partly down to the UK’s excessively high duty rates and the fallout of Brexit.

Following Brexit’s impact on the pound combined with inflation the wine trade is facing a tough trading landscape.

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

“Everyone should take the opportunity to toast our talented English wine makers with a glass of home-grown fizz on St George’s Day. A bit like St George, against all the odds, the UK wine trade has come out fighting and proved it can compete with the best of the best at a global level. The Government needs to do more to support this emerging British success story and the Chancellor can and should start bringing down his excessively high duty rates after he unfairly singled out wine for a duty rise in his last Budget.”

English sparkling wine is made in the same traditional method as Champagne, meaning it is left to age in the bottle, usually for about three years.

Sparkling wine accounts for 68% of all English and Welsh wine produced and has gained global recognition for its quality.

The success of English sparkling wines has led Champagne houses Vranken-Pommery and Taittinger to invest in vineyards in the south of England as the chalky soils and climate are very similar to those found in the Champagne region.

Duty is currently so high that 55% of an average priced bottle of still wine sold in our shops and supermarkets is now taken by the Treasury in tax and VAT. 

Around two thirds of the wine made in England and Wales is sparkling wine which attracts the highest level of duty, at £2.86 (plus VAT) on a bottle of fizz – a third higher than the £2.23 duty plus VAT UK consumers pay on a bottle of still wine.

By contrast, in France, consumers pay the equivalent of just 7p a bottle on duty for sparkling and 3p for still.

Mother’s ruin has proven itself to be Mother’s favourite

Gin sales spike in the run up to Mother’s Day proving that the spirit once dubbed ‘Mother’s ruin’ is now a go to gift for mum.

Previously unpublished figures show that sales of gin in the first quarter of the last two years all peak in March, in the run up to Mothering Sunday.

Between January and March 2017 gin sold in UK supermarket and shops reached 6.4 million bottles of which 2.6 million, 41%, of those bottles were sold in the month of March.

Last year during the same 12-week period 9 million bottles of gin were sold of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those flew off our shelves in March.

Sales of alcohol are traditionally slow in the first three months of the year, compared to the summer and the festive season, however there is a noticeable spike in sales in March according to data providers Nielsen.

The WSTA’s Market Report out this week reveals gin hit another record high last year with the juniper-based spirit breaking £2 billion in annual sales for the first time. 

The latest figures show that sales of gin over the 12-week Christmas period (up to 29/12/2018) were up 40% on the same period last year. 

During the whole of 2018 Brits bought over 73 million bottles of gin, breaking all previous records, with sales worth £2.1 billion.

Add this to the latest value of British gin exports and the quintessentially British spirit was worth over £2.7 billion for the whole of 2018.

There are now hundreds of different gin brands to choose from, using a huge range of different botanicals and in the last year a surge of pink gins entering the market. 

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.

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.

Spirit makers expect to see more bottles sold in March in 2019 than ever before along with a range of gin experiences and gin accessories.

This Mother’s Day Brits can buy a wide range of gin related gifts including vouchers for gin tours and gin spa experiences, crystal personalized gin glasses, botanical infusion bags for gin, ‘make your own’ gin kits, gin truffles, gin glass charms, gin candles and gin jam. 

Gin makers are also offering personalised gin gift wrapping. One company providing the service is Pickering’s Gin based in Edinburgh.

Marcus Pickering a co-founder of Pickering’s Gin said: 

“We feel Gin is so popular for Mother’s Day as people like to give their mothers something they really want. After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mum’s really want is Gin.

In terms of a global thirst for British products, distilling in Britain - and Scotland specifically has become world renowned for producing high quality products. As the first gin distillery in Edinburgh in over 150 years we are proud to provide that top quality, exceptional gin.”

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

“The truly staggering rise in gin sales shows that British gin is gaining more and more fans by the day. And we fully expect to see sales rise again in March this year, just as they did last year. The latest expression of the UK's fastest growing spirit - pink gin - is one of the 'go to' gifts for Mother’s Day. It's high time gin's new status and reputation were celebrated and supported by Government, which should be offering more support for British gin exports and a less taxing duty regime, both of which fail to support our entrepreneurial and innovative distillers.”

 

Gin sales spike in the run up to Mother’s Day proving that the spirit once dubbed ‘Mother’s ruin’ is now a go to gift for mum.

Previously unpublished figures show that sales of gin in the first quarter of the last two years all peak in March, in the run up to Mothering Sunday.

Between January and March 2017 gin sold in UK supermarket and shops reached 6.4 million bottles of which 2.6 million, 41%, of those bottles were sold in the month of March.

Last year during the same 12-week period 9 million bottles of gin were sold of which 4.7 million, 52%, of those flew off our shelves in March.

Sales of alcohol are traditionally slow in the first three months of the year, compared to the summer and the festive season, however there is a noticeable spike in sales in March according to data providers Nielsen.

The WSTA’s Market Report out this week reveals gin hit another record high last year with the juniper-based spirit breaking £2 billion in annual sales for the first time.

The latest figures show that sales of gin over the 12-week Christmas period (up to 29/12/2018) were up 40% on the same period last year.

During the whole of 2018 Brits bought over 73 million bottles of gin, breaking all previous records, with sales worth £2.1 billion.

Add this to the latest value of British gin exports and the quintessentially British spirit was worth over £2.7 billion for the whole of 2018.

There are now hundreds of different gin brands to choose from, using a huge range of different botanicals and in the last year a surge of pink gins entering the market.

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.

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.

Spirit makers expect to see more bottles sold in March in 2019 than ever before along with a range of gin experiences and gin accessories.

This Mother’s Day Brits can buy a wide range of gin related gifts including vouchers for gin tours and gin spa experiences, crystal personalized gin glasses, botanical infusion bags for gin, ‘make your own’ gin kits, gin truffles, gin glass charms, gin candles and gin jam.

Gin makers are also offering personalised gin gift wrapping. One company providing the service is Pickering’s Gin based in Edinburgh.

Marcus Pickering a co-founder of Pickering’s Gin said:

We feel Gin is so popular for Mother’s Day as people like to give their mothers something they really want. After years of giving flowers and chocolates we have discovered what mum’s really want is Gin.

In terms of a global thirst for British products, distilling in Britain - and Scotland specifically has become world renowned for producing high quality products. As the first gin distillery in Edinburgh in over 150 years we are proud to provide that top quality, exceptional gin.”

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

“The truly staggering rise in gin sales shows that British gin is gaining more and more fans by the day. And we fully expect to see sales rise again in March this year, just as they did last year. The latest expression of the UK's fastest growing spirit - pink gin - is one of the 'go to' gifts for Mother’s Day. It's high time gin's new status and reputation were celebrated and supported by Government, which should be offering more support for British gin exports and a less taxing duty regime, both of which fail to support our entrepreneurial and innovative distillers.”

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