Prominent figures in the gin trade told exchequer secretary Damian Hinds during a visit to the Beefeater distillery this week that losing access to the EU single market, which arguably makes trade far easier for regulated industries such as alcohol, could reduce the freedom for UK gin producers to trade.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said: “The great tradition of British gin making is supported by remaining in Europe – for both exporting and quality reasons.”
Exports of gin had risen by 46% in the past five years, with sales to 139 countries, worth £2.18bn over that period, he said.
“In 2015 alone the UK exported £231m worth of gin to non-EU countries and an impressive £189m to consumers inside the EU’s single market.
The UK exported 30milion bottles of gin to the EU over the past year – 45% of total gin exports by value. More than 170 new distilleries have opened and begun producing over the past half-decade.
Exchequer secretary Hinds said: “The UK’s gin industry is undergoing a remarkable renaissance, with the rest of the world developing a taste for our world-leading gin.
“The message from industry voices and famous gin makers like Beefeater is clear; leaving the EU would hit exports hard and could apply the brakes to the gin boom. I believe that gin, like the rest of our spirits industry, will be stronger, safer and better off within a reformed EU.”
Earlier this year, a leading recruiter warned the hospitality industry that the UK did not have the talent pool to sustain jobs within the industry if migrants were not available to contribute to the recruitment landscape.
Craig Allen, co-founder of the Change Group, told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser exiting the EU would have a further detrimental effect on the current shortage of chefs affecting the sector.