The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) reported that its 2021 export promotion activities, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), resulted in more than $875,000 in new exports of American spirits products by small U.S. distillers across the country.
“U.S. craft distillers have greatly benefitted from DISCUS’ partnership with USDA to promote American spirits,” said Charles McEntee, DISCUS Director, Export Promotion. “It is a concrete example of the effectiveness of public-private partnerships and illustrates how this program can assist small businesses across the United States that are working hard to expand their sales into foreign markets. Many of these businesses do not have the resources needed to break into these markets on their own, but this cost-sharing program helps to maximize their resources to reach adult consumers and importers in key markets.”
The DISCUS export promotion program is supported by funding through USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) as well as the Agriculture Trade Program (ATP), which was set up specifically to assist agriculture groups that have been adversely impacted by retaliatory tariffs.
DISCUS used this funding to implement marketing campaigns in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, and participate in trade shows in London and Berlin.
“In 2021, U.S. spirits exports rebounded from 2020 levels due to the reopening of the hospitality sector, consumers choosing premium and super-premium American spirits, and a suspension of retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. spirits exports,” said McEntee. “This is a great sign, but our exports remain well below pre-tariff levels achieved in 2018 – the first year that retaliatory tariffs were imposed on American whiskeys. With the lifting of these tariffs by the EU and UK, we expect to see a renewed appreciation for U.S. spirits from consumers overseas.”
McEntee pointed out that last year was particularly challenging for implementing MAP and ATP export promotion activities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the sporadic reopening and closings of the global hospitality sector.
“Cheers! Spirits from the U.S.A.” campaigns served as the centerpiece for the promotions. The campaigns, tailored for each targeted country, aimed to educate adult consumers, buyers and importers about the versatility and uniqueness of U.S. distilled spirits, with a focus on American whiskeys and their mixability in cocktails. The campaigns resulted in nearly 348 million impressions worldwide in 2021.
DISCUS began participating in the MAP program in 2006 and has conducted spirits promotions in cooperation with USDA in 21 foreign markets. Since that time, total U.S. spirits exports have increased by nearly 90 percent, from $831 million in 2006 to $1.6 billion in 2021.
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