Scotland’s food and drink exports surge to new high and leave UK behind

I’ve been forgetting to check the business mag, Insider, for some time so this from 10 February 2023, had passed me by.

Did BBC Scotland’s Douglas Fraser tell us this good news? I searched for ‘Douglas Fraser whisky exports’ in the last month and got:

It looks like there aren’t many great matches for your search

Anyhow, here’s the essence of the story:

Global exports of Scotch whisky grew to more than £6bn for the first time in 2022, according to figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

In 2022, the value of Scotch whisky exports was up 37% by value, to £6.2bn. The number of 70cl bottles exported also grew by 21% to the equivalent of 1.67bn.


Meanwhile, Scottish salmon was the UK’s biggest food export in 2022, new HM Revenue & Customs figures have revealed.

Sales reached £578m in the calendar year, with France leading the global demand.

6 thoughts on “Scotland’s food and drink exports surge to new high and leave UK behind

  1. Nope, the colonial media are NOT interested in good news from Scotland.
    They much prefer the tale of Scotlands drinks industry being “destroyed” by the NATS or the bottle return scheme “killing” all our small producers, or any old cobblers from Baillie and her Tory chums.
    The BEEB in Scotland? Pinkie-pullers, Orangemen, Bluenoses (like me) and out and out Brit Nat nits—with a direct line to No 10.
    Oh, and MI5 and the rest of the alphabet soupers.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Insider article on the Scotch Whisky industry and its export successes prompts these further observations.

    Firstly on scale, in 2022 the value of Scotch whisky exports is reported as £6.2 billion, up 37% by value compared to 2021. Of course the industry also has domestic sales, estimated by Statista (11 January 2023) as being worth £1.47 billion in 2021. This is indeed a economically substantial, impactful industry!

    In the Insider article, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is quoted saying that with appropriate support: ‘the Scottish and UK governments can count on the Scotch whisky industry TO REINVEST ITS SUCCESS ACROSS THE UK.’ (my emphasis) Keep this promise to reinvest ACROSS THE UK in mind as you read on.

    The Insider article reports that the whisky industry EMPLOYS 11,000 PEOPLE DIRECTLY IN SCOTLAND and A FURTHER 42,000 JOBS ACROSS THE UK. So just c.21% of direct UK jobs are located in Scotland!

    The Insider article quotes Nigel Huddleston, minister of state at the UK Department for Business and Trade) on the significance of the industry: ‘contributing billions of pounds to the economy and supporting thousands of jobs’. HE MEANS TO THE UK ECONOMY!

    Of course this industry provides revenues to the UK government from Corporation Tax and from the personal taxes raised from the 42,000 people (79% of its workforce) directly employed in the UK but outside Scotland. Then there is the impact of the greater multiplier effect preferentially benefiting other parts of the UK due to this much larger workforce located outside Scotland.

    And yet – the SWA’s website explains that: ‘SCOTCH WHISKY CAN ONLY BE MADE IN SCOTLAND’!

    It adds that it is made from three ingredients – water, yeast, cereals. We know the water comes from Scotland! The SWA tells us that: ‘The MAJORITY OF THE INDUSTRY’S BARLEY AND WHEAT REQUIREMENTS ARE SOURCED IN SCOTLAND. The Scottish climate lends itself to quality barley production and that, combined with good agronomic practice, makes Scottish barley very attractive to distillers.’ (See ‘ )

    The SWA website states: ‘The reputation of Scotch Whisky is established on traditional methods and that the production process takes place in Scotland, rather than the origin of our raw materials. There has never been a requirement to use Scottish only cereals in Scotch Whisky. The industry is, however, supportive of Scottish agriculture and in 2019, … estimates that 93% OF SPRING BARLEY PROCESSED AT DISTILLERIES WAS FROM SCOTTISH SOURCES (approximately 53% of the total Scottish Spring barley crop). Averaged over the past 3 years, the figure equates to approximately 86% of distillers’ requirements.’

    So to summarise: we have (i) a high value product in demand internationally; that (ii) can only legally be made in Scotland; that (iii) uses water sourced in Scotland; that (iv) mostly uses cereals grown in Scotland; and that (v) exploits ‘Scotland’ the brand to the full in its international marketing.

    But – this industry that makes and profits from this high value, Scotland-derived product (vi) pays it business taxes to the Westminster government; (vii) employs the overwhelming majority (c.79%) of its UK workforce OUTSIDE SCOTLAND i.e. in places where the product CAN’T be made; and as result of its employment decisions (viii) delivers additional tax revenues and an economic multiplier both which are preferentially beneficial to the UK government, not to Scotland. Another economic benefit of the Union?

    These observations remind me of a btl contribution I made here on 21 December 2021 concerning the proportion of the economic value of the Scotch Whisky industry that is captured within Scotland’s economy. I referred then to a rather outdated report which shed light on the matter: it refers to factors that may not have altered much over time, at least in principle.

    Source: BiGGAR Economics (2012) Contribution of the Scotch Whisky Industry to the Scottish Economy. ( )

    From that report: ‘In 2011, GVA (Gross Value Added – the value for the industry) can be estimated as £3,540 million, equivalent to 70% of turnover.

    ‘However, only £526 million of this GVA is accounted for by employee costs and so the other £3,013 million can be accounted for by operating profit and return on capital. Much of the Scotch whisky industry is owned and controlled from outside Scotland, meaning that little of the sector’s GVA will be retained in Scotland.’

    ‘Of the £3,013 million that can be accounted for by operating profit and return on capital, little of this seems to be re-invested in the Scottish economy. The briefing for MSPs gave a figure for investment of £800 million over the life of the last Scottish Parliament, £200 million per year, WHICH IS LESS THAN 7% OF THE ESTIMATED OPERATING PROFIT AND RETURN ON CAPITAL FOR 2011.’ (my emphasis)

    There is obviously a need to find – or encourage – an independently researched, up to date assessment, not least because the SWA has a tendency to involve itself in intensive political lobbying on matters that affect Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scotland has never been treated equally as per the terms of the Treaty of Union. Ever.

    Iraq, Lockerbie, Dunblane keot secret under the Official Secrets Act. The Oil revenues keot secret. The Accounts sabotaged. The Westminster accumulated waste. Scotland never getting the policies voted for in Scotland. Not enough powers or autonomy, Independence is the aim.





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