USDA Awards Distilled Spirits Council $1.12 Million to Promote Spirits Exports

News

December 6, 2021

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) announced it was granted $1,121,789 through its partnership with the USDA’s Market Access Program to promote American spirits exports in 2022, a nearly 100 percent increase over 2021 funding levels.

Total exports resulting directly from DISCUS export promotion activities increased from $625,000 between July 2019-June 2020 to $1,224,000 between July 2020-June 2021, per a news release by the spirits council.

“DISCUS’ export promotion program continues to drive big results for U.S. distillers and has been incredibly beneficial for small craft distillers looking to expand into foreign markets,” Charles McEntee, DISCUS Director of Export Promotion, said. “Since 2014, DISCUS’ MAP activities have directly resulted in nearly $6 million in new exports for craft distillers across the United States.”

DISCUS began participating in the program in 2006 and has conducted spirits promotions in cooperation with USDA in 20 foreign markets. Since that time, total U.S. spirits exports increased by nearly 66 percent, from $831 million in 2006 to $1.4 billion in 2020.

This past year, DISCUS conducted Market Access trade promotions in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Taiwan and the UK.  As part of last year’s Market Access Program, DISCUS conducted a series of mobile and virtual tasting tours showcasing American spirits. More than 300 members of the hospitality sector and media in key export markets registered and received tasting kits containing samples and informational booklets (English and translated) of U.S. distilleries looking to enter or expand into their markets.  

“USDA officials advised that this significant increase in funding is a testament to the great work of the DISCUS Export Promotion team, which was able to pivot and come up with very creative ways to continue to promote U.S. distilled spirits exports despite the tremendous challenges during the pandemic,” Christine LoCascio, DISCUS Chief of Public Policy, said. “The MAP program is a great example of how public-private partnerships can support the growth of small businesses across the United States.”

In addition to MAP, DISCUS still has funding available from the $1,215,000 grant it received in 2019 under USDA’s Agriculture Trade Program (ATP), which was set up specifically to assist those agricultural groups that are being adversely impacted by retaliatory tariffs. The ATP program expires in 2024 and the remainder of the funding will be used to supplement DISCUS’ MAP allocation. 

Under ATP, DISCUS has implemented media campaigns in Mexico, Canada, the EU and UK to build greater awareness among adult consumers of American Whiskey and help regain market share lost as a result of retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey. 

In June 2018, the EU and UK imposed a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on American Whiskeys in response to the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. American Whiskey exports to the EU, the U.S. spirits industry’s largest export market, have plunged 37 percent, from $702 million to $440 million (2018-2020) and American Whiskey exports to the UK, the fourth largest market, have declined by 53 percent, from $150 million to $71 million (2018-2020).

On October 30, 2021, the U.S. and EU announced an agreement to remove retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskeys as part of the steel-aluminum dispute agreement from January 1, 2022.  The UK continues to impose retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskeys.

Through the MAP and ATP programs, DISCUS seeks to facilitate the increase of small U.S. distiller exports and promote the U.S. spirits sector by educating the hospitality industry, adult consumers and media in key international markets on the taste, heritage and style of American distilled spirits.

DISCUS’ promotions focus on the range of American spirits, but with a particular focus on the unique qualities of American Whiskeys, including Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, American Rye Whiskey and American Single Malt, which account for the vast majority of U.S. spirits exports worldwide.

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