SCOTCH’S share of the global whisky market has fallen against a backdrop of an increased competitive threat from around the world including a resurgence in trade from Japan, the Scotch Whisky Association has said.

Members at the association’s annual gathering in Edinburgh heard that Scotch whisky’s share of the global whisky volume has decreased in the last five years but the retail value has grown, which it said reflects the quality of the product.

Peter Gordon, SWA chairman, said: “Whisky across the world has seen a significant increase in activity, most notably whiskies from America, Ireland and a resurgence of the interest in Japan.

“Its (Scotch) share of the total whisky market has fallen.”

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He said Scotch’s share of global whisky volume has decreased from 26 per cent to 23% and over that period Scotch volumes fell from 94.3 to 92.8 million cases.

He said: “More importantly in terms of value, Scotch whisky’s share of the global whisky retail value decreased from 48% to 43%.

“This is despite the Scotch retail value growing from £25.5 billion to £28.8bn.

“The difference in values share highlights the hugely positive and premium nature of Scotch in the whisky world.

“My note of caution is that we have real and capable competitors across the world and we need governments and other stakeholders to appreciate that we need solid support.

“I remain very optimistic for the future of the industry, but there are some headwinds to overcome.”

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Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, set out her 2050 vision for the industry which includes securing Scotch whisky’s position as the number one internationally traded spirit while working towards net-zero emissions.

Ms Betts pointed to Brexit and said “it will be hard to get to 2050 if we can’t get past October 31 2019”.

Derek Mackay, finance secretary, said: “Scotch whisky is one of our most important Industries. The direct impact of Scotch Whisky on the economy is estimated to be £3.8billion with additional indirect and induced effects of a further £1.7bn.

“It is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and we will continue to support the sector to grow sustainably and inclusively through both the Scottish Government’s ‘A Trading Nation’ strategy, as well as the food and drink industry-led ‘Ambition 2030’.”