The economic value of salmon farming leapt to an all-time high last year as confidence in the sector continues to grow, according to a new report.

Entitled ‘Scottish Salmon Farming – Industry Research Report’, the survey highlights the creation of 272 new jobs during 2011, a 23% growth in the total gross pay and a record £47.6 million capital investment. The report also highlights a 22% leap in the expenditure on suppliers and services, rising to £435 million.1  

Representing 98% of salmon production, the industry body Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) also reports increasing confidence levels in the second annual Salmon Business Confidence Survey. 

Scott Landsburgh, Chief Executive of SSPO, said: “The new economic report shows that salmon farming continues to be an expanding part of our economy, supporting more than 2,124 direct jobs which is a 13% rise on the previous year.

“Direct employment is only part of the picture as there are many more thousands of jobs supported in the supply chain.  The expenditure on the immediate suppliers and services to the sector also recorded a massive leap.

“At a time of slow growth in the global economy, the Scottish salmon sector continues to be a source of major capital investment and new opportunities.  With continual national commitment and a balanced approach in the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill proposed for later this year, the industry can continue to create more opportunities for employment across the country,” added Landsburgh.

Professor Phil Thomas, Chairman of SSPO, said: “Scotland has relatively few world class industries, but its salmon farming is in that category.

“By international standards our farms are small and our commitment to high standards of husbandry and management incurs added costs.  Scotland seeks to produce the best and we are immensely proud of our history and tradition.

“The creation of 506 jobs over the last three years and £1.4 billion expenditure on suppliers and services during the last four years stand out as major economic contributions made by the industry,” added Professor Thomas. 

Highlighting the high standards of husbandry and the increasing percentage of Scottish salmon production to be approved by Freedom Food, the RSPCA’s farm animal welfare and food labelling scheme, Leigh Grant, Chief Executive Officer, Freedom Food, said: “We are very much encouraged that since the RSPCA launched the welfare standards for farmed Atlantic salmon just over nine years ago, between 60% and 70% of Scottish salmon in seawater are now Freedom Food approved.”

Salmon Business Confidence Survey

The key findings from the second annual Salmon Business Confidence Survey (SBCS) are:

 §   86% of SSPO member companies plan to increase staff over the next five years (an increase from 78% when compared with the previous survey in December 2010), and;

 §   86% of SSPO member companies expressed a desire to grow sustainably over the next five years (an increase from 70% when compared with the previous survey in December 2010).

 “From speaking to employers it is clear that there is a desire to increase job creation, with 86% of companies planning to both increase staff and grow production sustainably over the next five years.  This is great news for the Highlands and Islands and the wider Scottish economy and we must work with government to maintain the high levels of confidence in our industry,” added Landsburgh.