Salmon exports hit a record high last year and helped Scotland's food and drink exports do the same.
Salmon exports hit a record high last year and helped Scotland's food and drink exports do the same.

Salmon help push exports to £6 billion record

Fish and seafood played a big part in increasing the value of overseas Scottish food and drink exports to a record high of approximately £6 billion in 2017 - almost £570 million more than 2016.

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Fergus Ewing: Food and drink exports at an all-time high. Photo: SNP
Fergus Ewing: Food and drink exports at an all-time high. Photo: SNP

Food exports were valued at about £1.6 billion – a rise of 15% (£214m), with fish and seafood accounting for £944m, up 23% from 2016. Exports of farmed salmon were worth £600m, a 35% increase on 2016.

Exports of food to Europe were worth £1.1 billion after an increase of 13%, or £125m.

Scotch whisky exports also increased by around £356 million compared to 2016.

Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “Scottish food and drink exports are at an all-time high – with world-renowned Scottish goods like salmon and whisky being consumed across the globe at record levels. That’s due in part to sectors working together to sell our remarkable products, and creating or enhancing our national brands.

“The statistics highlight the importance of the EU single market to our food and drink success, with the EU buying more than 40% of our produce. The continuing uncertainty surrounding the UK Government’s Brexit plans, and the prospect of losing tariff-free access to that market would be potentially devastating for our food and drink industry. 

“Confirmation by the UK Government that it wants devolved powers over food labelling to transfer to them creates further risk and uncertainty, when much of our success depends on our ability to market Scottish produce and provenance effectively. That’s potentially a huge problem in the long term to our food and drink sector, who share our ambition for further expansion, and to protect our national brands [with EU Protected Food Name status].

“The Scottish Government is doing all we can to support the growth of food and drink exports: working with key sectors to develop new and existing markets, boosting innovation and skills, and supporting Scotland’s local producers via business rates exemptions and grants for example.” 

Continuing increase

Susan Beattie, head of food and drink at Scottish Development International, said: “The Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan brings together SDI and trade association resources to help companies access opportunities in our top prospect markets. 

“This includes a team of in-market specialists who are opening doors for Scottish companies with retailers and foodservice organisations, so we’re anticipating a continuing increase in food and drink exports over the next few years.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: "The world is increasingly developing a taste for Scottish produce. A few years ago, reaching £6 billion in annual export sales was just an ambition. However, industry leadership and a crucial partnership with government has made it a reality.

"It is particularly important to see our food exports increasing in Asia and North America, following in the footsteps of our number one export, Scotch whisky, which is firmly back into its growth phase. However, Europe remains the top destination for many of our products, emphasising the need for a Brexit process which protects this vital trade.

"Sales of Scottish food have now risen more 130% in a decade, but we have greater potential still. Our industry has an ambition to double the value of its sales overseas and in our home market to £30 billion by 2030. Today marks an important step along that road.”