Food and drink exports from Scotland grew by £421 million or 8% in 2016 to a record £5.5 billion — with exports to EU countries worth £2.3 billion — the Scottish government said.
The figures showed:
- Food exports grew by 22% to £1.5 billion
- The fish and seafood category recorded the largest overall increase of £156 million — up 26% — with Europe the leading export destination
- Exports to EU countries were worth £2.3 billion — up £133 million
- Scotch whisky exports grew by £153 million or 4% to more than £4 billion
The figures come ahead of the launch of a new industry strategy on March 23 that will outline plans to grow the sector through 2030.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Since this government came into office the value of food exports has more than doubled.
“Food and drink is now one of the standout success stories in our economy, increasing growth and supporting jobs across the country.
“Our produce has an excellent reputation around the world and it’s clear the industry is going from strength to strength.
“The increased collaboration between industry and public sector and the Food and Drink Export Plan are helping this by identifying opportunities to support businesses and breaking down the barriers to trade.
“These figures show the importance of retaining access to the vital European markets, which are currently worth £2.3 billion to the sector, and represent our largest export market.
“We shouldn’t have to face the choice between remaining as part of the UK and the EU single market.
“The pursuit of a hard Brexit is a major threat to this success and these figures show why we must work to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.”
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “This industry is Scotland’s fastest growing major sector. Yet we have huge ambitions to grow further.
“We are clear we want to internationalise our food industry, following in the footsteps of our greatest export, Scotch whisky.
“We have now doubled food exports since 2007, transforming the level of trade in growing markets like Asia.
“That is crucial to extend our footprint beyond just Europe which is still the destination for over 70% of our food exports.
“The game changer has been developing a national brand for Scottish produce in export markets, with industry and government working hand in hand to invest in overseas trade experts and activity.
“If we now further deepen that work, this success story has much further to go.”