The UK keeps its global crown as the largest exporter of spirits, sending the equivalent of 1.8 billion bottles abroad in a year.

A new report into the value of the UK’s wine and spirit industry, commissioned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, has revealed that the wine and spirit trade contributed over £76 billion to the UK in economic activity in 2022.

This compares to £49 billion pounds in economic activity contributed by the wine and spirit industry five years ago, according to the last similar report commissioned by the WSTA.

The Economic Analysis Study, produced by Cebr for the WSTA, highlights the importance of the sector which showed that in total the wine and spirit industry generated over £22 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy in 2022.

The UK remains the world’s second largest importer of wines, bringing in the equivalent of 1.7 billion bottles in 2022. And keeps its global crown as the largest exporter of spirits, sending the equivalent of 1.8 billion bottles abroad in the same year.

Economists from leading economic consultancy, Cebr, revealed that the UK’s wine and spirit industry supports 413,000 jobs in 2022. This includes 219,000 people in the spirits sector and 193,000 jobs in wine.

Owen Good, Head of Economic Advisory at Cebr, said:

These figures, highlighted by the industry supporting more than 400,000 FTE jobs in 2022, show the significant economic contribution that the wine and spirits industries make to the UK economy. This economic support is particularly driven by the notable contribution of on-trade retailers, while much of the economic activity supported across the value chain is underpinned by a strong (and growing) domestic production industry.”

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: 

“This report comes as a timely reminder of the importance of the wine and spirit industry to the UK economy. In total £22.6 billion of GVA is added to the UK economy from the trade of which 46% comes from the on-trade.

We look forward to working with the next Government to ensure the right support to encourage more investment, innovation and to generate further growth. We hope that MPs, Ministers and officials will all want to work in close partnership with our industry over the lifetime of the next Parliament – recognising the significant value of wines and spirits to national economy, and working together to achieve economic growth, improved environmental outcomes and social responsibility.”

The WSTA’s 10 key asks of an incoming Government, which fall under three guiding themes, are:

An Economically Sustainable Industry: valued for our economic contribution, fairly taxed and regulated.

  • Make permanent the temporary easement for wine due to expire on 1st Feb 2025.
  • Ensure the effective functioning of the UK’s internal market.
  • Commit to enacting any excise duty changes once annually, on a fixed date.
  • Ensure any post-Brexit regulatory divergence does not adversely affect international trade and prioritise digitisation of customs procedures wherever possible.

An Environmentally Sustainable Industry: Supporting businesses towards net zero.

  • Delay the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) until all the details of the Scheme are finalised and businesses have time to budget fully and to prepare for its introduction.
  • The roll out of Deposit and Return Schemes (DRS) across the UK must be interoperable with common fees and labelling requirements, and a common set of materials within scope. Glass should not be included within scope of any DRS.
  • Reform of the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system is long overdue, the introduction of measures to increase transparency should not be further delayed, but instead introduced as soon as possible.

A Socially Sustainable Industry: Working alongside Government, recognising the industry’s track record of self-regulation and effective cooperation.

  • Commit to allowing the industry to present Government with responsible drinking and harm reduction proposals, including new labelling guidance.
  • Support access to additional health and nutritional information on-label on a voluntary basis, using technological solutions to reduce costs (i.e. QR codes).
  • Support and simplify the production, labelling and marketing of no-and-low alcohol products, including raising the ‘no-alcohol’ threshold to 0.5% abv.

Source: Wine and Spirit Trade Association

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