Scottish salmon exports up 36% to £614m

Scottish salmon exports recovered to near-record figures in 2021, according to new figures released by the UK Government on Friday.

Reinforcing its place as the UK’s biggest food export, salmon overseas sales increased to £614 million — up 36% compared to 2020 and just below the £618 million recorded in 2019.

The HMRC figures demonstrated the strong global demand for Scotland’s farm-raised salmon.

Salmon Scotland said the industry directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and supports more than 3,600 suppliers, with 10,000 jobs dependent on the sector.

Exports were shipped to 52 different markets last year, with growth across 10 of the top 20 markets.

“France led the recovery (up £119 million to £304 million), followed by the USA as the second main market (up £47 million to £152 million) and China (up £31 million to £45 million),” said Salmon Scotland.

“The EU accounted for 61% of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Scottish salmon plays a vital role in our food and drink success story as the UK’s biggest food export, and these figures demonstrate the growing, global appetite for this nutritious and low carbon food source.

“Exports returning to levels close to pre-pandemic in spite of the disastrous impact of Brexit don’t happen on their own.

“This is testament to our resilient and hard-working aquaculture sector.

“The Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland have also collaborated and supported the industry with new certification requirements to the EU, including setting up and staffing export hubs.

“We will continue to support businesses in the aquaculture sector as well as safeguard our marine environment as part of our green recovery and transition to net zero for future generations to enjoy and make a living from.”

Salmon Scotland CEO Tavish Scott said: “These incredibly encouraging figures demonstrate the global demand for our unrivalled farm-raised Scottish salmon and the resilience of our industry.

“For exports to recover to near record-levels after such a difficult economic period during the pandemic is testament to the hard work and dedication of farmers to sustainable growth in the face of increased costs.

“Maintaining production during the run-up to the festive period was achieved through extensive work done by a committed workforce as labour supply remained tight within the processing sector.

“As well as creating thousands of jobs and opportunities here at home, farm-raised Scottish salmon is a global success story with high environmental and welfare standards that puts the best-tasting and healthiest protein product on people’s plates.

“But we must also be aware that our Scandinavian counterparts are growing faster and selling more salmon, so it is imperative that government enables a regulatory framework that is both transparent and efficient to ensure that Scottish salmon retains its place as the key flag-bearer for quality exports from Scotland.”