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North America: craft alcohol export opportunities

Market opportunity: Craft alcohol

Key details

Opportunity: Craft alcohol

Country: North America

Sector: Food & drink


North America is one of the most important markets for Scotland’s drinks industry.

Many of Scotland’s Scotch whisky producers have already formed an import partnership or partnerships in North America. However, further growth is possible by developing new sales channels and partnerships in each state and province and not just at the federal level.

Beyond whisky, a notable trend towards premiumisation by consumers in North American markets bodes well for Scotland’s high-end craft gin producers.

We are also seeing significant demand for products such as ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, non-alcoholic spirits, and agave-based spirits, which are set to see strong growth in the short-term.

Scale of opportunity

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) reports while sales of gin in the US were flat in terms of volume, they had increased 3% in value in 2019. This uptick was driven by gains in the ‘high end’ (+5.1%) and ‘super-premium’ (+31.7%) categories.

Premiumisation will drive scotch whisky sales as well, particularly in combination with consumers’ enthusiasm for limited releases, low production quantities, and collectable bottlings. DISCUS reported an increase of 11.8% of sales in the super-premium category of Scotch whisky in 2019.

Finally, in the ready-to-drink (RTD) market, IWSR highlighted 20% growth in 2019. It is expected to remain the fastest-growing category in the US over the next five years, tripling its volume output by 2023.

Eligible companies

This opportunity is open to Scottish alcohol producers with a high level of ambition and existing commitment to and investment in branding, social media and online capabilities.

Companies need to be committed to understanding the complexity of exporting to North America and willing to tweak their brands to maximise their opportunities for success.

Register your interest

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Register your interest

Register your interest

Get in touch with our in-market specialists to find out more about this export opportunity.