British gin breaks £500m export barrier

British gin industry call for freeze at next Budget
Credit: Igor Normann

Exports of British gin have broken records again this year, with sales overseas shattering the half a billion-pound mark for the first time.

The latest figures from HMRC show that £530 million worth of British gin was sold abroad in 2017.

This is the equivalent of around 189 million (70cl) bottles of British gin exported last year up from around 177 million bottles in 2016.

Thanks to a surge in popularity in the juniper-based spirit, which has been dubbed the ‘ginaissance’ British gin exports have more than doubled since 2008 when sales overseas were worth £258 million.

Britain sends more gin around the world than it does beef, and exports of the spirit have increased 12% by value and 7% by volume, in the last year.

The WSTA correctly predicted last year that the UK’s gin producers would see £500 million in exports in 2017, and with gin’s popularity showing no signs of waning either abroad or here in the UK, the organisation are now predicting that gin will be a £2 billion industry by the end of 2018.

The USA remains the largest importer of UK gin, with sales to the US worth £184 million, up almost £12 million on 2016.

By region, the EU is still by far the biggest destination for UK gin, with the European market seeing growth of 16% last year. Within the EU, Spain is the largest market, with £100 million of gin sales, meaning that the Spanish gin market is bigger than the next five markets (Germany, Italy, France, Greece and Belgium) combined.

Whilst a much smaller slice of total sales, Asia and Oceania both saw growth. There is lots of potential, the WSTA argues, for exporters to capitalise on the thirst for all things ‘Brand Britain’ in emerging markets.

WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale, said: “We are, by some margin, the largest exporter of gin in the world, with huge potential for growth, and our industry needs to take further advantage of this.

“On leaving the EU, we want more government support to increase exports to developed markets such as Australia, Japan, China and the US. The removal of tariffs would allow Britain to maintain its position as the world’s largest spirits exporter and further boost the UK economy and provide more jobs.”

Domestic gin sales hit £1.2 billion in 12 months (to Sept 2017), with Brits buying the equivalent of over 47 million bottles of gin. This is up 7 million bottles compared to the same period the previous year.

A YouGov poll recently found gin is now the most popular spirit with 29% of drinkers voting it their favourite spirit tipple.