2050 vision for Scotch Whisky set out at annual conference

SWA Chief Executive Karen Betts

The Scotch Whisky industry will couple future global growth with action to ensure the environmental sustainability of the industry, delegates at the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) conference heard recently.

The annual gathering in Edinburgh heard speeches from SWA Chief Executive Karen Betts as well as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek MacKay MSP.

Scotch Whisky is the UK’s largest food and drink export, accounting for 21% of all food and drink exports, and a recent report underlined the value of the industry to the UK economy – generating £5.5bn in GVA. Industry employees also contribute significantly to the productivity of the economy, producing over £200,000 GVA per employee.

SWA Chief Executive Karen Betts set out her 2050 vision for the industry – securing Scotch Whisky’s position as the number one internationally traded spirit while working towards net-zero emissions.

Speaking after the Conference, SWA Chief Executive Karen Betts said:

“The strength of our export markets remain key to the strength of the industry, driving productivity at home and underpinninginvestment in our communities. 

“Our markets of the future are our established markets in Europe and North America as well as today’s emerging markets, in which we expect to see significant growth over the coming years.  India, China and Brazil, alongside other buoyant markets in these regions, are key to future growth overseas and prosperity at home.

“Looking to 2050, our ambition is to secure Scotch Whisky’s position as the world’s number one internationally traded spirit. To do this, our companies will need to constantly work to improve their export markets alongside successful work in partnership with governments at home and overseas to ensure that the right trading and regulatory conditions foster growth.

“Increasing free trade globally has benefitted our industry enormously in the last 30 years.  It is critical to us that, over the next 30years, global trade does not go into retreat.

“The industry is determined to achieve this growth in a sustainable way. We will continue to work hard to ensure our environmental sustainability and play our full part in Scotland’s efforts to tackle climate change. 

“Our industry depends on natural resources and our distilleries are set in some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. So we are investing significant time, energy and money in moving our industry towards net-zero.

 “This will involve working ever more closely with the Scottish Government to ensure future regulation enables us to achieve bothexport growth and emission reductions while remaining competitive globally. Improving Scotland’s infrastructure is key so, as we grow, Scotch Whisky can be moved from distillery to bottling plant to ports in carbon-neutral ways.

“We look forward to working with Derek Mackay and others to achieve our shared aims.”

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek Mackay MSP said: “Scotch Whisky is one of our most important Industries. The direct impact of Scotch Whisky on the economy is estimated to be £3.8billion with additional indirect and induced effects of a further £1.7 billion.

“It is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and we will continue to support the sector to grow sustainably and inclusively through both the Scottish Government’s ‘A Trading Nation’ strategy, as well as the food and drink industry-led ‘Ambition 2030’.”

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