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UK gin exports sink in wake of Brexit and Covid-19

Exports of British gin remain below pre-pandemic levels after the double whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit hit the industry, according to government figures.

Data from HMRC shows that the total value of UK gin exports in 2021 was £541.5 million - a fall of around 20 per cent since 2019. Exports to the EU have taken one of the largest hits - they reached £228 million in 2021, down by more than a quarter since 2019.

Meanwhile, the impact of the pandemic has been felt in places such as the USA, the UK's largest overseas market for gin. Exports to the country fell by nearly £50 million in the past year, which HMRC attributes mainly to Covid-related hospitality closures.

However, the figures do show growth in some markets, with increased gin exports to Latin America and non-EU countries in Europe. It is a ray of hope for the 800-odd gin distilleries now operating in the UK (according to figures from The Independent).

Nicholas Cook, director general of industry body the Gin Guild, said: "The latest data reflects the significant effects of the pandemic and Brexit on the gin industry. 

"Gin distillers have faced a greatly reduced demand from the hospitality industry, which is only now beginning to recover from a year of closures and restrictions. This affected all, but especially smaller producers whose route to market was largely via local venues rather than through established retail and online sales.

"Distillers, as with other UK exporters of goods and services, have also faced the increased logistical difficulties in exporting to the EU - and, indeed, have faced the same issues in importing key materials including bottles and botanicals."

15 February 2022 - Bethany Whymark