Plans to grow the Scotch whisky industry while ensuring its environmental sustainability have been set out at the sector’s annual conference.
The product is the UK’s largest food and drink export, accounting for more than a fifth of all such exports.
Proposals to strengthen the industry over the next three decades took centre stage at the yearly Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) members’ day in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
SWA chief executive Karen Betts set out her vision for the industry up to 2050 – securing the drink’s position in the international market while working towards net-zero emissions.
Speaking after the conference, she said: “Looking to 2050, our ambition is to secure Scotch whisky’s position as the world’s number one internationally traded spirit.
“To do this, our companies will need to constantly work to improve their export markets alongside successful work in partnership with governments at home and overseas to ensure that the right trading and regulatory conditions foster growth.
“Increasing free trade globally has benefited our industry enormously in the last 30 years. It is critical to us that, over the next 30 years, global trade does not go into retreat.
“The industry is determined to achieve this growth in a sustainable way. We will continue to work hard to ensure our environmental sustainability and play our full part in Scotland’s efforts to tackle climate change.
“Our industry depends on natural resources and our distilleries are set in some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. So we are investing significant time, energy and money in moving our industry towards net-zero.
“This will involve working ever more closely with the Scottish Government to ensure future regulation enables us to achieve both export growth and emission reductions while remaining competitive globally.
“Improving Scotland’s infrastructure is key so, as we grow, Scotch whisky can be moved from distillery to bottling plant to ports in carbon-neutral ways.”
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, who addressed the conference, said Scotch whisky is one of the country’s most important industries.
He said: “It is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy and we will continue to support the sector to grow sustainably and inclusively through both the Scottish Government’s ‘A Trading Nation’ strategy, as well as the food and drink industry-led ‘Ambition 2030’.”