Library photo of salmon boxes being prepared for export at the logistics centre run by haulier DFDS at Larkhall in Scotland's Central Belt.

Scottish salmon export value bounced back in 2021

The value of Scottish salmon exports recovered to a near-record high in 2021, according to new figures released by the UK Government today.

Published Last updated

Overseas sales of farmed salmon – the UK’s most valuable food export - increased to £614 million, according to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). That was an increase of 36% compared to 2020, when Covid impacted exports, and was only marginally below the £618m record in 2019.

Exports were shipped to 52 different markets last year, with growth across 10 of the top 20 markets.

The value of Scottish salmon exports to the 20 best markets, and the percentage change compared to 2020. Click on image to enlarge. Table: Salmon Scotland.

61% to EU

France led the recovery (up by £119m to £304m), followed by the United States (up £47m to £152m) and China (up £31m to £45m).

The EU accounted for 61% of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports.

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “These figures demonstrate the growing, global appetite for this nutritious and low carbon food source.

“Exports returning to levels close to pre-pandemic in spite of the disastrous impact of Brexit don’t happen on their own.

Hard-working sector

“This is testament to our resilient and hard-working aquaculture sector. The Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland have also collaborated and supported the industry with new certification requirements to the EU, including setting up and staffing export hubs.

“We will continue to support businesses in the aquaculture sector as well as safeguard our marine environment as part of our green recovery and transition to net zero for future generations to enjoy and make a living from.”

Committed workforce

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland (formerly the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation), said the export earnings were testament to the hard work and dedication of farmers to sustainable growth in the face of increased costs.

“Maintaining production during the run-up to the festive period was achieved through extensive work done by a committed workforce as labour supply remained tight within the processing sector,” said Scott.

“As well as creating thousands of jobs and opportunities here at home, farm-raised Scottish salmon is a global success story with high environmental and welfare standards that puts the best-tasting and healthiest protein product on people’s plates.

“But we must also be aware that our Scandinavian counterparts are growing faster and selling more salmon, so it is imperative that government enables a regulatory framework that is both transparent and efficient to ensure that Scottish salmon retains its place as the key flag-bearer for quality exports from Scotland.”

Salmon prices have so far been high this year and are expected to remain that way for the first half of the year due to high demand, indicating that 2022 could be a record-breaking year for Scottish salmon export earnings.