USDA Awards Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Funding to Promote American Spirits Exports

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States logo

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) announced it was granted $511,386 through its partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) to promote American spirits exports in 2020, an increase of nearly 15 percent over 2019 funding levels.

“This continued increase in USDA funding is a clear recognition of the effectiveness of DISCUS’ export promotion program in boosting sales of American spirits abroad,” said Christine LoCascio, DISCUS chief of public policy. “USDA’s investment in these programs is paying off. In 2018 alone, DISCUS’ MAP activities resulted in $1.05 million in new exports for craft distillers across the United States.”

Since 2006, DISCUS has conducted spirits promotions in cooperation with USDA in 18 foreign markets. In 2019, DISCUS conducted MAP trade promotions in Australia, Germany, Mexico and South Africa. This collaboration has contributed to a huge increase in global U.S. spirits exports, rising from $873 million in 2006 to $1.8 billion in 2018.

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company General Manager Scott Harris, who has participated in numerous DISCUS MAP promotions, stated, “Craft distillers can benefit greatly by participating in these international promotions. DISCUS’ MAP events were critical in helping me to break into new markets and make valuable business connections.”

Harris added, “These export promotions have become even more important in light of the retaliatory tariffs on American Whiskey. These events allow U.S. distillers to showcase our products and keep American spirits top of mind in these foreign markets.”

Through the MAP program, DISCUS seeks to facilitate the increase of small U.S. distiller exports 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.

Earlier this year DISCUS was granted $1,215,000 through the USDA’s Agricultural Trade Program (ATP), which was set up specifically to assist those agricultural groups that are being adversely impacted by retaliatory tariffs.

Since retaliatory tariffs on U.S. spirits were implemented in the second half of 2018, exports to the European Union (EU), Canada, Mexico, Turkey and China worth an estimated $732 million have faced retaliatory tariffs.

Between January-October 2019, American Whiskey exports to the EU are down nearly 28 percent compared to the same period in 2018. Similarly, global American Whiskey exports are down more than 18 percent through September 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018.

To date, DISCUS has used ATP funds to implement media campaigns in Mexico, Canada and the EU, and conduct trade promotions in the United Kingdom.