Scottish salmon exports up 9% to £306m in first half

Scottish salmon export sales rose 9% in the first half of 2023, with major growth in the Asian and American markets, according to Salmon Scotland analysis of HMRC figures.

The figures show that salmon from Scotland — the UK’s largest food export — recorded a value of £306 million between January and June.

Farm-raised salmon directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and a further 10,000 jobs are dependent on the sector.

The largest increases in export by value were to the US, China, Poland and Taiwan, while there was also huge percentage growth in the Netherlands, Singapore, Japanese and Spanish markets.

France remains by far the top international destination for Scottish salmon, and although sales to the country fell 5% in the first half of the year, this was more than offset by wider global demand.

“Within the EU, the new figures for countries like Poland and the Netherlands – now the fourth and sixth biggest global markets – reflect a growth in other EU hub and redistribution markets,” said Salmon Scotland.

“Overall, non-EU exports rose significantly by 19 per cent in the first half of 2023 to £132 million, with EU export sales up by 3 per cent to £173 million.”

Salmon Scotland’s analysis of HMRC figures, comparing values in the first half of 2023 with the first half of 2022, show exports to:

  • US up 10% to £77m.
  • China up 57% to £12m.
  • Poland up 48% to £17m.
  • Taiwan up 174% to £9m.
  • Netherlands up 114% to £9m.

In the 2022 calendar year, fresh, whole Scottish salmon export sales of £578 million were recorded, while the record figure was £617 million in 2019.

“Although the volume of fish transported overseas fell marginally, this reflected tight global supplies – and the increased international demand is pushing prices up,” said Salmon Scotland.

“Premium ‘Label Rouge’ salmon – which carries the French quality mark for being the best in the world – currently accounts for around 12 per cent of exports, and there is a vision to grow this to 15 per cent by 2026, tapping into the markets in Germany, Spain and Italy where the quality mark is increasingly recognised.”

Separately, the UK domestic market for salmon is valued at around £1.2 billion a year, and the sector’s Gross Value Added (GVA) is worth £766 million for the Scottish and UK economy.

Salmon Scotland CEO Tavish Scott said: “The first half of the year has been another period of incredible success for Scottish salmon, reflecting the hard work and dedication of our farmers and the growing demand internationally for our nutritious fish.

“Grown sustainably in the waters off our west coast, with animal welfare a top priority for farmers and vets, the quality of Scottish salmon is recognised worldwide which is why it is the UK’s top food export.

“As well as providing hundreds of millions of pounds for the UK economy and creating thousands of jobs, Scottish salmon also ensures that remote coastal communities can thrive.

“Both the UK and Scottish governments rightly recognise the potential for continued sustainable growth, so that Scotland can lead the world in the blue economy and grow one of the most nutritious foods we can eat.

“While we face the same challenges as many sectors – including too much red tape, labour shortages, housing supply issues and the impact of climate change – the extraordinary success of our sector is something to be incredibly proud of.”