Scottish salmon is named UK’s top food export for 2023

Fish farm (photo: Salmon Scotland)

Scottish salmon was the UK’s top food export by value in 2023, figures from HMRC show.

Export sales for the calendar year totalled £581m, up by 5% year-or-year and equivalent to £1.6m every day.

France – which is a key processor for on-sale to other countries as well as a major consumer of salmon – once again led global demand.  The US and Asian markets saw sharp growth, however. Salmon exports by value to the US were up 7% to £139.8m and to China, up 27% to £47.5m.

Scottish salmon exports were far higher than the UK’s second largest food export, Cheddar cheese (£445.3m), as well as other popular British products like lamb and beef.

Salmon is also by far the most popular fish among UK shoppers, with sales running at around £1.25 billion a year.

Total volumes exported were down, however, in parallel with Norwegian salmon exports. The UK exported 64,000 tonnes, down 11% from the previous year’s 72,300 tonnes.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of industry body Salmon Scotland, said: “The demand for nutritious, low carbon Scottish salmon continues to grow at home and abroad.

“It’s testament to the hard work of salmon farmers in rural Scotland that our fish has been named the UK’s biggest export in 2023 in such challenging economic circumstances.

“The Scottish salmon sector is a bright spot in the Scottish and UK economies and is ready to invest and create jobs.

“This is all the more important given the UK is now officially in recession and there is no growth in Scotland, so we need more government support to ensure that Scotland is open for business.

“Other nations are desperate to emulate our success, and it is vital that our sector – which employs 12,500 people and sustains our remotest communities – is supported so that we can deliver sustainable growth for decades to come.”

Salmon Scotland took the opportunity, however, to stress that the sector faces a number of challenges including Brexit-related red tape and what it called “the slow pace of reform of cumbersome regulation in Scotland.”




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