Tavish Scott: "Given the critical importance of revenue generation by our farmers, whoever is handed the keys to Number 10 must streamline the export process for fresh Scottish salmon."

Scottish salmon export value and volume up by more than a third

Results from January to April show ‘critical importance’ of sector and of slashing red tape to further boost prosperity, says trade body chief


The value of Scottish exports in the first four months of this year increased by £65 million to £250m compared to the same period in 2023, according to HMRC data trade analysed by trade body Salmon Scotland.

The 36% jump in export revenue reflected a 35% increase in the volume of Scottish salmon sold abroad between January and the end of April this year compared to that same period last year.

Some of the volume increase can be explained by improved growing conditions in the last quarter of 2023 which led farmers such as Scottish Sea Farms and Bakkafrost Scotland to delay some harvesting until Q1 2024 to allow their fish to get bigger.

On a rolling annual basis, exports of Scottish salmon at the end of April stood at £645m, an 11% increase on the 12-month total of £581m at the same time last year and marking the highest sales value since 2019.

Salmon Scotland said that if current growth continues, 2024 could set a record for international sales, further confirming salmon’s position as the UK’s top food export.

The value of salmon sold to EU customers increased by 9% over 12 months despite a volume drop of 3%.

The figures come hard on the heels of calls for the next UK government to reduce red tape introduced due to Brexit, with Salmon Scotland publishing its own manifesto earlier this month.

The trade body is urging whoever wins the general election on July 4 to improve relations with the European Union to boost exports.

The sector also wants to see the introduction of electronic export health certificates (eEHCs) and the elimination of unnecessary paperwork associated with exporting salmon to Europe, which has been costing salmon farmers an estimated £3m every year since Brexit. The eEHCs have been successfully trialled but not introduced. 

The value of exports was up 35% and the volume increased by 36% in the first four months of 2024.

100 million meals

In the first four months of the year, 26,000 tonnes of Scottish salmon were exported to more than 40 countries, enough for more than 100 million meals.

The EU continues to be the key destination for exports, accounting for £153m worth of the total between January and April. Sales to the EU have soared by £53m, while volume was up by 51% to almost 17,000 tonnes. France remains the single largest market for Scottish salmon, with sales of £143m.

Exports of Scottish salmon beyond the EU increased 14% to £97m, with almost one-in-five salmon heading to the US (£56m – up 13%).

Export growth in Asia increased by 17% in value and 31% in volume, reaching £37m and 3,300 tonnes, respectively. Further analysis indicates China added £5m market value growth to £26m in the period.

Immense value

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “The reputational and economic value of Scottish salmon is immense, as reflected in these latest export figures showing a significant increase in global demand for our healthy, nutritious fish.

“Given the critical importance of revenue generation by our farmers, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis, whoever is handed the keys to Number 10 must streamline the export process for fresh Scottish salmon, ensuring quicker delivery to our customers.

“We eagerly anticipate working with the next UK government to expand exports and boost national prosperity.

“Through salmon farming expansion, we are bolstering Scotland’s economic growth, creating quality jobs in our Highland and island communities, and supplying low-carbon, protein-rich food to meet the needs of a growing global population.”