East Anglian distillers toast export success as ‘gin craze’ grips world market
PUBLISHED: 14:56 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:11 11 June 2019
Soaring sales have sent UK gin exports to new heights – and East Anglia’s distillers are reporting growing overseas demand.
British gin exports increased by 15% in 2018 and were worth £613m. They are now worth more than double 2010's sales of £288m.
The new study showed the most popular destination for British gin in January, February and March 2019 was the United States, which imported £50m, closely followed by Spain and Germany, which imported £19m and £10m respectively.
Southwold-based brewer and gin-maker Adnams said it had seen growing overseas sales.
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Last year it exported three times the amount of spirits compared to 2017. About 11.5% of its spirits volumes sold in 2018 were exported, with whisky as well as gin doing well.
Its Copper House gins are exported to Italy, Belgium, Chile and Hong Kong.
Bradley Adnams, head of international development, said: "Adnams is benefiting from what is a world gin craze. International consumers are now seeking new and interesting gins enhanced by unique ingredients and willing to spend their money on high quality products."
Oliver Drury, head of corporate affairs, said: "We export Adnams products to more than 20 countries around the world and we have seen growing demand for our award-winning gin.
"Over the last 10 years we have grow our export market more than 80%. We have introduced successful limited edition seasonal gins such as Lemon and Tamarind which have been incredibly well received in addition to our award-winning Copper House Gin."
Christopher Hayman, master distiller at Hayman's Gin, a family business which retains a base at Witham in Essex but has recently launched a new distillery at Balham in London in order to keep up with demand, said
"My great grandfather started distilling our True English gin over 150 years ago. We now export to over 50 markets around the world and are thrilled that Hayman's of London can be enjoyed by gin enthusiasts across most of the countries of Europe and as far afield as Moscow, Toronto, Los Angeles, Sydney or Shanghai," he said.
"We've increased our distillation capacity significantly. We are proud to use our archive of family recipes to bring back a number of styles of gin previously lost to the history books, whilst maintaining the traditional distillation process inherent with True English style of gin."
International trade secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "We also raise a glass to our national gin heritage and expertise, which is translating into economic benefits for the country and supporting local job creation.
"UK drinks exports continue to grow from strength to strength."
Russell Evans, boss at Norwich-based gin maker Bullards - which is currently looking to move into the export market - said the business is in final discussions with a Dutch importer. "This will be our first foray into export and have picked the Netherlands due to its history with gin and the fact the Dutch invented gin, who better to test your product against?
"The main challenge is being able to build the brand and brand loyalty. The bigger companies have the resources available to put teams on the ground, something the independents can't do. So we have to use the quality of our product, branding and story to do this. We also have to be very selective with our importer and make sure we have a great partnership in place."
The business's key concerns in getting into exports has been having a physical presence in the market to portray the brand correctly, he said.
"We have to do this remotely so making sure strong distribution partnerships are in place. It's about building a brand - not just a volume of sales exercise," he explained.
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"I think a lot of the figures are based around strong sales to the East Asian market, not just in gin but across the spirits category. The British gin scene looks to be leading the market in regards to innovation and quality - these will always be sought after."
Pete Margree, of Norwich-based St Giles Gin, said he was also looking to export to America after awards success led to interest. "We are in the final stages of negotiations with an importer that would see our gins in exclusive stores across America," he said.
After they scooped accolades at the American Spirits Awards, it attracted interested from US importers.
"The phone began to ring with enquiries and offers," he said. "Expanding into the export market will provide another significant income stream but will not change the way we do business in this country."
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