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Tariffs hurt U.S. whiskey exports

Tariffs on American whiskey

The trade war is hurting U.S. whiskey exports, putting a damper on an otherwise upbeat 2018, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council.

“Globally during the first six months of 2018, U.S. exports of American whiskeys were growing at 28% (Jan-Jun: $595 million),” the Council wrote.

“Following the imposition of the retaliatory tariffs, these exports decreased 8.2 % (Jul-Nov: $526 million) compared to the same period in 2017 (July-Nov.).”

Overall, U.S. spirits had a “record” year, with $1.7 billion in exports through November. The E.U. is the biggest market, with exports totaling $363 million from January through June, then slipping to $312 million from July to November. American whiskey was the biggest driver of sales growth in the high-end and super premium spirits categories, up 6.6% to $3.6 billion. Tequila was up 10.2% to $3.0 billion, cognac was up 14.2% to $1.8 billion, and Irish whiskey increased 12% to $1.0 billion.

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Spirits gained market share versus beer in 2018, to 37.4% of the total alcohol market. Spirit supplier sales totaled $27.5 billion for the year. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT, +1.65% is up 0.2% over the past year while the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.29% is up 3.2% for the period.

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