Scotland’s salmon exports hit five-year high

salmon fillets on production line

Scottish salmon exports in the first four months of this year were up more than a third by value, according to HMRC figures. The data, analysed by industry body Salmon Scotland, shows that the value of salmon exports was up by £65m to £250m, a 36% increase on the same period last year.

On a rolling 12-month basis, the figure was £645m, representing the highest level in five years and an 11% increase compared with the previous year’s £581m. Salmon exports achieved their highest sales value since 2019.

Exports were also up by 35% in volume terms. 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.

Salmon Scotland said that if current growth continues, 2024 could set a record for international sales.

Earlier this month, the industry published a manifesto ahead of the UK General Election on 4 July, calling for a cut in the red tape for seafood exports to the EU.

Salmon Scotland is urging whoever wins the general election on July 4 to improve relations with the European Union to boost exports. It also wants to see the introduction of electronic export health certificates 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.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, 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.

“As exports continue to rise, enhanced legal protection under the UK Government’s Protected Geographical Indication scheme will safeguard the Scottish salmon brand both domestically and internationally.

“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.”

The change to salmon’s Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) means that any product described as “Scottish salmon” must adhere to strict rules, including specified production methods. Previously the PGI applied only to “Scottish farmed salmon”.

The EU continues to be the key destination for Scotland’s salmon exports, accounting for £153m worth of the total between January and April.

Sales to the bloc 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.

Elsewhere, exports beyond the EU increased 14% to £97m, with almost one in five salmon exported heading to the US (£56m – up 13%).

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