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  September 8th, 2017 | Written by

American Spirits Export Value Rises by 10.6 Percent in First Half of 2017

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  • US-made spirits, particularly whiskeys, enjoy growing appeal in many foreign markets.
  • US brandy, vodka and rum are also now showing strength in many highly competitive markets.
  • US Whiskey showing strong growth in the UK, Japan, Germany, and France.

The value of US distilled spirits exports rose a robust 10.6 percent—up more than $67 million—to a total of $698.5 million in the first half of 2017 as compared with the same period in 2016, the Distilled Spirits Council reported today.

In dollar terms, the growth was led by the largest category: American whiskeys including Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, and American Rye, which rose nearly $27 million to $464.6 million up 6.1 percent. But smaller categories of other American spirits also showed strong increases. Brandy was up 39.4 percent or $12.2 million to $43.45 million total; vodka gained 51.2 percent or $11.4 million to $33.6 million; and rum was up 49.5 percent or $5.2 million to $18.55 million.

“This clearly demonstrates the growing appeal of US-made spirits, particularly American whiskeys, in many foreign markets,” said Council Senior Vice President for International Trade Christine LoCascio. “But other traditionally smaller categories such as brandy, vodka and rum are now showing strength in many highly competitive markets.”

“People are entering the middle class in China for the first time and they’re looking for affordable and conspicuous luxuries,” Tom Lix, CEO of Cleveland Whiskey told Global Trade magazine. “Imported bourbon fits that description.”

Strong Growth Markets Include UK, Japan, Germany, France

LoCascio pointed out among the largest gains were in the United Kingdom, up 39 percent or $18 million to $64.8 million; Germany, up 33 percent or $13.6 million to $55.4 million; France, up 21.4 percent or $9.1 million to $51.8 million; Brazil, up 313.8 percent or $7.8 million to $10.2 million; Panama, up 76.5 percent or $6.6 million to $15.3 million; and Japan, up 14.3 percent or $6.5 million $52.2 million.

“Around the world, adult consumers are seeking out American spirits because of their diversity of flavors and styles, mixability and authentic heritage,” LoCascio stated. “As in the domestic market, premiumization is the backbone of our export strength.”

Other strong markets for US-made spirits markets for the first six months included Italy, Poland, Latvia and Chile, LoCascio added. Canada remains the single largest market for US spirits exports, which were valued at $87.6 million between January and June 2017. Mexico is the tenth largest export market, with sales totaling $18.4 million over the same period, she said.

Council Run Export Promotion Program Contributes

LoCascio noted that the Council has been running an export promotion program in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture and American embassies since 2005, and has conducted education seminars and events in 19 countries.

“Several of the countries showing strong growth in value or percentage imports are markets where the Council conducted recent promotions, including Germany, France, Brazil, Hong Kong and Singapore,” LoCascio said.

Over fifty US companies, small, medium and large, from 23 states have participated in these promotions since 2005. The next promotion is later this month in London, featuring 22 small, medium and large distillers. It includes a media event at the Deputy Chief of Mission’s (DCM) residence, as well as a trade event for distributors.

The program also supports American spirits representatives in China and India, key future growth markets, who work to introduce the local beverage trade to distinctive characteristics of American spirits, particularly Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey.

“In many target markets around the globe, US ambassadors have hosted tastings and seminars in the embassy or residence, which attract high-level media, distributors and other beverage trade influencers. It is a partnership that helps showcase our nation’s spirits products in these prestigious venues, and has paid many dividends in contributing to export growth,” LoCascio concluded.