Scotch whisky exports remained steady in the first half of 2012 despite falling demand in some parts of Europe, including Spain and France.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said in a statement that exports had remained stable year on year, standing at £1.8 billion pounds ($2.9bn) for the six-month period. However, it added that the situation was very mixed.
Exports to the United States – the largest market – increased by 13 percent, to a total of £303 million ($488.63m), while sales to Venezuela and Germany also rose. The association noted that Latvia and Estonia now appear in its top 20 markets, reflecting a surge in demand in Russia.
However, sales to Spain fell by 24 percent in the six-month period, while those to France were down by 14 percent. The association noted that the decline in exports to France was partly the result of bigger shipments last year ahead of a substantial rise in the tax imposed on alcohol.
Asia remained steady with good growth in Taiwan.
Despite the uneven figures, chief executive Gavin Hewitt said the industry was in good shape: "Recent announcements of investments in new distilleries, or the extension of existing sites, show the confidence of producers in the growth opportunities in the future."
The British liquor giant Diageo, which owns the Johnnie Walker, J&B, Talisker and Lagavulin whisky brands, announced in June it would invest £1 billion ($1.61bn) in the next five years to increase its production of Scotch whiskey.
With sales to India rising by 28 percent to £28 million ($45.15m), the SWA said it was hopeful that a talks on a free trade agreement between the European Union and India would soon be concluded. An agreement would result in India's "onerous" 150 percent tariff on imported spirits being reduced, allowing the country "to fulfill its potential to be one of the biggest markets for Scotch."
Scotch whisky continues to attract younger, affluent consumers in newly emerging markets and this trend is expected to continue.
Hewitt said that overall, there had been 12 percent growth in export sales in the last 12 months: "While there has been a leveling off in the first half of this year, the industry remains confident about the future."