Scotland’s salmon sector has unveiled an ambitious European growth plan for its premium “Label Rouge” salmon to further enhance Scotland’s international reputation for food and drink — and boost the rural economy.
Label Rouge Scottish salmon carries a quality mark that recognises it as the best in the world, becoming the first non-French product to be awarded the accolade 30 years ago.
It currently accounts for 12% of Scottish salmon exports, but a plan to increase this to 15% by 2026 was announced at the global Seafood Expo in Barcelona.
While France has long been the main destination for Label Rouge Scottish salmon, the new approach aims to tap into countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy where the quality mark is increasingly being recognised.
Overall, Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest food export, with more than 72,000 tonnes of fish worth £578 million sent to international markets last year.
France led the global demand, taking 53% of exports, but sales were recorded to a total of 54 countries.
In 2022, 8,900 tonnes of Label Rouge quality salmon was produced and exported.
Salmon farmers must meet strict quality control standards set by the French authorities to be certified by the Label Rouge assurance scheme, providing their fish with a natural protein-heavy diet that helps further enhance taste and texture,
The aim to grown this premium offering, capitalising on Scottish provenance, was unveiled in Barcelona by trade bodies Salmon Scotland and Scottish Quality Salmon.
Salmon Scotland CEO Tavish Scott said: “Scottish salmon is an extraordinary global success story that we can all be immensely proud of, with farmers in the Highlands and islands growing the UK’s largest and most valuable food export.
“Label Rouge Scottish salmon is a key foundation of that success – championing the quality and taste of the very best salmon available.
“Over the next three years, we want to increase the share of Label Rouge certified fish to over 15 per cent, making it the real jewel in our exporting crown.
“Label Rouge is not just a brand for our farmers – its higher value means higher revenues which support the Scottish economy, fund public services, help rural communities thrive and create jobs.
“We look forward to the next 30 years of growing and supplying the very best, tastiest salmon.”
Su Cox, chair of Scottish Quality Salmon, which sets the quality and promotes Label Rouge Scottish Salmon, said: “Recognised for its exceptional quality, taste, and texture, Label Rouge Scottish salmon is considered to be one of the finest salmon available globally.
“Our fish are grown under strict quality control standards and certified by an exacting quality assurance scheme that is recognised worldwide and guaranteed provenance.
“Through engagement campaigns we have developed this standard into an internationally recognised quality brand.
“This includes campaigns with leading chefs, our Salmon Clan with top ‘Poissonerie’ (fish shops), recipes and chef guides.
“Interest and appreciation for the quality associated with our salmon has grown significantly across European markets such as Germany, Spain, and Italy, as well as across Asia and North America.
“We believe we can now extend our Label Rouge exports to reach new highs over the coming years.”