New record for sector

Food exports growing five times faster than whisky

James Withers: fantastic news (photo by Terry Murden)

22% growth for food sales

Food exports from Scotland are now growing five times faster than whisky as foreign markets develop a growing appetite for fish and other seafood.

Overseas sales of food and drink from Scotland last year grew by £421 million or 8% to a record £5.5 billion, new figures have confirmed.

Whisky accounted for more than £4bn of the total, as revealed in figures announced last month, a 4% rise (£153m) on the previous year.

Encouragingly for the sector, food exports grew by 22% to £1.5bn. Food exports have now doubled since 2007.

Fish and seafood showed the biggest rise, up 26% (£156m), with demand from Europe sharply higher. This is thought to be fuelled by increasing demand for Scottish seafood in overseas restaurants.

Exports to EU countries were worth £2.3 billion overall, up £133 million.

These figures come ahead of the launch on Thursday of a new industry strategy which will outline plans to support and grow the sector to 2030.

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “Food and drink is now one of the standout success stories in our economy, increasing growth and supporting jobs across the country.

“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.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, has previously highlighted a desire to increase food exports to match whisky sales.

Wester Ross Fisheries
Fish and seafoood growing fast

He said: “The latest export figures are fantastic news and a new high for Scottish food and drink.  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.”

Susan Beattie, head of food & drink at Scottish Development International, said: “These excellent export figures reflect the hard work and dedication of Scottish food and drink businesses and strong consumer demand across the world for their high quality premium products.

“We’re pleased to play our part in supporting these companies to grow in the top prospect markets identified in the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.

“A key part of this support is the SF&D team of in-market specialists who are opening doors with leading retailers and foodservice organisations, identifying business opportunities which companies are actively following up on.”

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