The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) today announced it has been awarded $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) to increase awareness and exports of U.S. distilled spirits in India.

In October 2023, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack authorized $1.2 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation funding to launch RAPP. This initiative aims to diversify and expand market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products beyond the traditional top customers—Canada, Mexico, the European Union and China —which collectively comprise nearly 60% of U.S. agricultural export sales.

“We thank Secretary Vilsack for enhancing opportunities to expand U.S. spirits exports to India,” said Chris Swonger, Distilled Spirits Council president & CEO. “Our longstanding partnership with USDA has been successful in increasing U.S. spirits exports globally, supporting distillers and farmers across the United States. With this award, DISCUS and USDA will help lead the expansion of American Whiskeys and other U.S. spirits exports to India.”

Despite being the world’s largest whiskey market by volume, American Whiskey exports to India reached only $16 million in 2023 – less than what was exported to Singapore, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.

DISCUS was one of 66 recipients that applied for RAPP funds in 2024. This award brings the total amount granted to DISCUS from USDA for export promotion to nearly $1.4 million in 2024.

DISCUS will utilize the RAPP funds to launch a multi-year marketing and trade promotion campaign to increase exports and the availability of American spirits brands in India and educate consumers on the unique qualities and craftsmanship of the diverse range of American Whiskeys. DISCUS will continue to urge the U.S. government to secure the reduction of India’s 150% tariff on U.S. spirits exports and reduce the myriad of non-tariff barriers that negatively impact U.S. spirits exports to India.

Since 2006, DISCUS has sponsored spirits promotions in more than 20 foreign markets through its partnership with the USDA’s Market Access Program. Since that time, total U.S. spirits exports have increased by nearly 166%, from $831 million in 2006 to $2.2 billion in 2023. In 2023, American Whiskeys, which account for 63% of all U.S. spirits exports, reached a record $1.4 billion.

“There is a significant opportunity to grow the Indian market for U.S. spirits producers,” said Swonger. “Many of our craft distiller members have invested significant time and resources to enter foreign markets, and, with USDA’s support, this program will help them introduce their fine spirits to adult consumers in India.”