Label Rouge Scottish salmon.

Scottish salmon farmers seek to cash in on quality

Producers will extend reach of Label Rouge product from France to other markets


Scotland’s salmon sector has unveiled a plan to grow the proportion of exports that qualify to the premium ‘Label Rouge’ tag by a quarter, from 12% to 15%.

Label Rouge Scottish salmon became the first non-French product to be awarded the accolade 30 years ago. While France has long been the main destination for Scotland’s Label Rouge Scottish salmon, the new approach aims to tap into countries such as Germany, Spain, and Italy where the quality mark is increasingly being recognised.

Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest food export, with more than 72,000 tonnes of fish worth £578 million sent to international markets last year. France led the global demand, accounting for 53% of exports, but sales were recorded to a total of 54 countries.

In 2022, 8,900 tonnes of Label Rouge quality salmon were produced and exported.

Taste and texture

Farmers must meet strict quality control standards set by the French authorities to be certified by the Label Rouge assurance scheme, providing their fish with a natural protein-heavy diet that helps further enhance taste and texture.

The aim to the increase the volume of Label Rouge salmon was unveiled during the Seafood Expo Global trade show in Barcelona, Spain, by trade bodies Salmon Scotland and Scottish Quality Salmon.

The Expo is the world’s largest seafood trade event, with buyers, suppliers, media, and other seafood professionals from more than 160 countries in attendance.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “Scottish salmon is an extraordinary global success story that we can all be immensely proud of, with farmers in the Highlands and islands growing the UK’s largest and most valuable food export.

More than a brand

“Label Rouge Scottish salmon is a key foundation of that success - championing the quality and taste of the very best salmon available.

“Over the next three years, we want to increase the share of Label Rouge certified fish to over 15%, making it the real jewel in our exporting crown.

“Label Rouge is not just a brand for our farmers – its higher value means higher revenues which support the Scottish economy, fund public services, help rural communities thrive and create jobs.

“We look forward to the next 30 years of growing and supplying the very best, tastiest salmon.”

Interest has grown

Su Cox, chair of Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS), which sets the quality and promotes Label Rouge Scottish salmon, said SQS had used engagement campaigns to develop the standard into an internationally recognised quality brand.

“This includes campaigns with leading chefs, our Salmon Clan with top ‘Poissonerie’ (fish shops), recipes and chef guides.

“Interest and appreciation for the quality associated with our salmon has grown significantly across European markets such as Germany, Spain, and Italy, as well as across Asia and North America.

“We believe we can now extend our Label Rouge exports to reach new highs over the coming years.”

Encouraging innovation

The Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, said: “Scottish salmon is rightly internationally renowned and over the last 30 years Label Rouge salmon has established itself as a world-leading example of premium quality Scottish produce.

“We are committed to encouraging investment in research, development and innovation in Scotland’s aquaculture sector and we will continue to work closely with the Scottish salmon industry to further improve export opportunities and see more consumers enjoying Label Rouge salmon as a result.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, John Lamont, said Label Rouge salmon was synonymous with top quality.

“Its expansion into new markets is further good news for the Scottish aquaculture sector, and of huge importance for many of our coastal communities who rely on the jobs salmon supports. ”