SCOTTISH farmed salmon exports were worth a record £618 million in 2019, up 22 per cent on the previous year, according to new figures published today. The tonnage exported also increased, by 26 per cent to more than 94,000 tonnes.
Exports grew in 17 of the top 20 markets, with France, the US and China remaining the biggest destinations. A total of 54 countries imported Scottish salmon, HMRC statistics show.
For the third year running, France emerged as the largest market, with sales worth £221 million, followed by the US (£179 million), and China (£59 million).
The EU accounted for 56 per cent of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports and 52 per cent of the value.
Outside the EU, America saw growth in volume of 28 per cent year on year, with exports of 25,000 tonnes.
While there was a decline in exports to China of 11 per cent in volume, this was offset by growth elsewhere in Asia, to countries including Taiwan and Japan, resulting in almost £97 million worth of Scottish salmon exported to the region.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, CEO of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), said: ‘These figures demonstrate just what an extraordinary success Scottish salmon is.
‘Such record breaking performance is hugely encouraging and reflects the excellent reputation which Scottish salmon has in international markets.
‘Scottish salmon’s good environmental story, with its small carbon footprint and low water use, plus global recognition of its taste, quality and provenance is clearly understood in almost every corner of the globe.
‘Salmon’s continued export success sustains more than 2,300 jobs in Scotland, mostly in sparsely populated rural areas.
‘This success has led to substantial sums being re-invested into local communities, providing much-needed employment and economic support.’
She added: ‘These latest export successes represent a trail blazer for other Scottish food overseas and provide a further reminder of the importance of salmon, both to the Scottish economy and to the food and drink sector.’
Yesterday, the SSPO revealed that salmon exports faced a ‘huge, unnecessary’ burden in Boris Johnson’s non-alignment Brexit deal with the EU.
It is feared that salmon exports will need Export Health Certificates (EHCs) after the end of this year, when the transition phase is over, costing between £1.3 million and £8.7 million per year.
Scotland’s rural economy minister, Fergus Ewing, said: ‘The need to explore and take advantage of international markets could not be clearer given the current uncertainty around our future trading relationship with Europe.
‘This is an important time for the Scottish farmed salmon sector, which contributes significantly to the rural economy, supporting families and livelihoods in some of our most fragile communities.
‘I’m confident that the Scottish government and industry will continue to work together to unlock further sustainable growth of this vital sector.’