China is a top 20 market for Scotch Whisky with exports estimated to be worth around £100 million in total last year and its popularity continues to grow. Senior industry representatives are currently visiting Asia to further promote Scotch Whisky and strengthen trade links.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will also mark its Centenary while in China. The trade body will celebrate 100 years of work to protect and promote Scotch Whisky, the world¹s most popular premium spirit.
As China has become an increasingly significant market - especially since its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001 - protection of Scotch Whisky has grown in importance.
Scotch Whisky has been registered as a geographical indication (GI) of origin in China since 2010 which clearly states the product must be made in Scotland. The SWA said the Chinese authorities have shown their respect for international trade rules. It explained that the authorities have been highly co-operative in enforcing rules and regulations around protection and helping maintain Scotch Whisky¹s reputation for quality.
However, fake whisky remains an issue and the SWA will emphasise the need for even more co-operation and stronger criminal sanctions. One area for discussion is the need for a high quality definition of whisky in China in line with European Union standards. This would prevent unfair competition from inferior spirits being sold as 'whisky'.
Gavin Hewitt, SWA chief executive, said:
"It is a pleasure to visit China again. It is an exciting market and we have established excellent relations with the Chinese authorities. Through industry efforts Scotch Whisky enjoys a premium reputation in China. We have a very good working relationship with the Chinese authorities who demonstrate their commitment to protecting the reputation of Scotch Whisky.
However, there is always more work to be done.
"Young, affluent Chinese consumers are increasingly developing a taste for Scotch Whisky which they recognise as a quality, international product.
While in China we will mark the SWA¹s 100th anniversary and celebrate the strong heritage of Scotch Whisky, something that has a great resonance with Chinese consumers."
Representatives from the SWA will be holding meetings to help promote and protect Scotch Whisky in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as China.