Scottish alcohol companies in high spirits after sales to CPTPP countries soar

29/12/2023

SCOTTISH food and drink exporters are toasting success this Christmas as demand from consumers in CPTPP, the massive trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific the UK signed up to in July, has boomed ahead of the festive season. 

Latest figures show luxury British staples such as Scotch Whisky, chocolate and sparkling wine are being ordered en masse by CPTPP countries including Singapore, Japan, Mexico and Malaysia. Over the past year, UK chocolate exports to Singapore have increased by 220% in current prices to over £26 million while UK sparkling wine exports to Japan have increased by 140% to over £26 million.   

The Indo-Pacific region is set to account for the majority of global growth and around half of the world’s middle-class consumers in the decades to come, presenting huge opportunities for UK businesses. Under CPTPP, which the UK is set to formally join next year, tariffs on 99% of UK goods exports such as chocolate to Mexico and Malaysia will be 0%, helping drive even more export success.  

Scotch Whisky continues to dominate the Singapore market, with over £380 million worth of Scotch Whisky exported from the UK to Singapore over the last year, an increase of 31% (£90 million) in current prices on the previous year. Its huge popularity extends to other markets in CPTPP, with a 43% (£11 million) increase of Scotch Whisky exports to Malaysia over the past year. 

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:  

“This Christmas our fantastic British food and drink producers are already reaping the rewards of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific, with high demand in fast-growing economies such as Singapore and Malaysia for our world-renowned festive staples.   

“Once we become a fully-fledged CPTPP member, tariffs on more than 99% of UK goods will be set at 0%, ensuring even more people across the globe will be able to celebrate next Christmas with a glass of English sparkling wine or dram of Scotch whisky.”  

Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, Mark Kent said:  

“Exports of Scotch Whisky to the CPTPP countries have grown significantly in the past decade, collectively reaching more than £1.1bn in 2022.  

“The UK’s accession to CPTPP will open up new opportunities for Scotch Whisky and other UK products in key markets in the region, including the phased elimination of Malaysia’s import tariff.   

“With the potential for more countries to join CPTPP in the coming years, Scotch Whisky will benefit from further liberalisation in the region.” 

Jonathan Brenton, Director of Public Affairs for Pernod Ricard UK, Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail and Chivas Brothers, said: 

“We are excited by UK’s entry into the CPTPP. The Pacific rim is already the world’s most economically dynamic region and five CPTPP members are in the top 20 markets for our Scotch whiskies.  

“CPTPP will reduce whisky tariffs in Malaysia to zero and will help us leverage the growing middle class and a trend towards premium products and cocktail culture in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam.” 

Isle of Harris Distillers are one such business who have been leading the charge in not just CPTPP markets but across the world too, so that now even more people can sample their award-winning gin and whisky. Singapore is also a big market for the UK gin industry, with enthusiasm for gin and tonic and the Singapore Sling driving a 56% (£3 million) increase in current prices in UK gin exports to the country over the past year.  

Peter Kwasniewski, International Business Development Manager at Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd., said: 

“Exporting is a great way for a business to grow sustainably and at faster rate than just domestically and exporting to CPTPP is becoming an increasingly important part of our business, and we’ve seen an encouraging boost to our sales to member countries over the past year.  

“Consumers worldwide are looking at drinking less but higher quality products. There is a clear demand for super premium quality products such as the Harris Gin and The Hearach – Single Malt Whisky we distil, and once Britain becomes a full-member of the trading bloc this should only improve things further with making the products more easily accessible to international consumers .” 

Singapore is not the only country with an increasing taste for British booze. For Kent-based Balfour Wines, Japan – which buys more sparkling wine from the UK than any other CPTPP country – is by far their biggest market, totalling 35% of sales. Japanese customers have uncorked more than £26 million worth of sparkling wine from the UK over the past year, up 140% (£15 million) in current prices on the previous year, and this could grow further when we join CPTPP and word of this first-class product spreads. 

Adam Williams, COO and Sales Director of Balfour Wines, said: 

“As a category, we are at the early stages in our export journey, but it’s clear that Japan is a hugely exciting market for English Wine. 

“It is a mature market for premium wine, especially for high-quality sparkling wine, something that English wineries rightly have a worldwide reputation for.

“We’re looking forward to working closely in the market to build awareness of our wine.” 

Hampshire-based chocolate manufacturer Summerdown is another business enjoying new success after taking advantage of the UK’s recent trade deals. Their award-winning peppermint chocolates have hit shelves in Singapore, where the UK exported over £26 million of chocolate over the past year. With its large expat community, Singapore’s demand for British chocolate has reached new heights, sparking a 220% (£18 million) increase in current prices in exports to the country over the past year. 

Chief Mint Officer for Summerdown Jo Colman said: 

 “At Summerdown, knowing our products are being enjoyed around the world brings us enormous pride. Seeing what we are creating from my family’s farm in Hampshire sold on the shelves of the world’s best food halls from Singapore to Sydney will never not be exciting.  

“The support we have received from DBT over the years in these key markets has always been invaluable in enabling us to focus on promoting and extolling the virtues of what makes everything we sell so special – our Black Mitcham peppermint.” 

Analysis reveals estimated £745 million surge for food and drink sector as the UK dismantles trade barriers, propelling British goods to global markets. This includes around £440 million in fresh opportunities for UK alcohol exporters. 

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