Brexit debate

Brexit could cost Scotch whisky industry £1bn: SWA

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The Scotch industry could lose more than £1bn of exports if the UK quits the EU, claims the SWA
The Scotch industry could lose more than £1bn of exports if the UK quits the EU, claims the SWA

Related tags Scotch whisky industry International trade

A UK decision to quit the EU would cost the Scotch whisky industry more than £1bn in lost exports and over 40,000 jobs, warns the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

If Britons voted to leave the union in the EU referendum on Thursday June 23, British producers would face “bureaucratic barriers when trading with Europe”, ​said the association.

Whisky producers would also be saddled with relabelling costs “of around £3,000 for each product line they export”, ​it added.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: “Scotch supports around 40,000 jobs across the UK, and adds around £5bn in value to the economy.​The industry was said to make a vital to the UK balance of trade.

​EU membership has many advantages for Scotch. The single market – including its regulation of food and drink – and its single trade policy are central to the success of Scotch,​said Frost.

‘Many advantages for Scotch’

​It lets us trade across the EU simply and easily and helps give us fairer access to other overseas markets.”

Influential support for the SWA’s claims was supplied by environment secretary Liz Truss.

“Europe has a taste for Scotch,​said Truss“T​he industry will do better if we remain in the EU because whisky producers have hassle-free, easy access to the single sarket of 500M people.”

Speaking ahead of her visit to Diageo’s Glenkinchie distillery, near Edinburgh, Truss said: “Our thriving Scotch industry and the wealth it brings to us all through jobs and investment will be stronger, safer and better off within a reformed EU.”

Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes also agreed that keeping Britain in the EU would be better for British business.

He said: “The Single Market gives us a level playing field and open access across the EU, while the EU’s clout in international trade helps to open up new markets with agreements favourable to the UK.”

‘Diageo benefits greatly’

“Diageo benefits greatly from the UK’s membership of the EU and we strongly believe that we should remain within that union.”

Scotch whisky was reported to be worth £125 per second to the UK economy and 99M cases were exported worldwide, according to the SWA.

But Vote Leave spokesman Robert Oxley told BBC News: “Pro-EU campaigners are unable to comprehend that our leading exports and industries have prospered because of hard work at home, not because of EU membership.”

Meanwhile, at last month’s Foodex event, Food and Drink Federation boss Ian Wright urged food industry leaders who back EU membership to grow a pair” ​and to engage more in the debate about the benefits of EU membership. Wright was formerly communications director with Diageo.

The comment was made in a panel discussion, Ask the Industry, chaired by business TV broadcaster Steph McGovern. Don’t miss our exclusive video interview with McGovern on what keeps food and drink industry leaders awake at night​.

Brexit ‘risk’ for Scotch whisky: SWA

  • £1bn cost in lost exports
  • 40,000 jobs lost
  • £3,000 relabelling cost for each product line
  • Single market of 500M people would be lost 

Related news

Show more

1 comment

Why will it result in lost business and jobs in whiskey

Posted by ian Bottomley,

To make statement that leaving the EU will decimate the Whiskey industry is worrying, but more worrying is that no one is saying why this will happen! and giving any substance to the statement or expanding on how say Diageo do indeed benefit from UK membership of the EU
please expand on how ''Brexit'' poses a risk !

Report abuse

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast