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Fish sales booming

Scottish salmon breaks records amid EU warning

Julie Hesketh-Laird and Fergus Ewing

Scottish salmon exports hit a record high in 2019, according to new figures which follow a warning of the added cost burdens facing producers because of Brexit.

There has also been a dip in sales to China as a result of the coronavirus impacting on trade.

Official statistics released by HMRC show the value of exports last year hit £618 million, the highest ever, while sales of salmon overseas increased by 22% over 2018. The tonnage exported also increased by 26% to over 94,000 tonnes.

France, US, and China were the top three markets of 54 countries which imported Scottish salmon.  For the third year running, France emerged as the largest market for Scottish salmon with sales worth £221m, followed by US (£179m), and China (£59m).

The EU accounted for 56% of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports and 52% of the value.

In total, 17 of the top 20 export markets showed positive growth in 2019.

While there was a decline in exports to China of 11% in volume, this was offset by growth elsewhere in Asia to the likes of Taiwan and Japan resulting in almost £97m worth of Scottish salmon exported to the region.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) chief executive, who earlier this week said producers face an additional bill of up to £8.7m in post-Brexit export paperwork, said: “These figures demonstrate just what an extraordinary success Scottish salmon is.

“Such record-breaking performance is hugely encouraging and reflects the excellent reputation which Scottish salmon has in international markets. 

“Scottish salmon’s good environmental story with its small carbon footprint and low water use plus global recognition of its taste, quality and provenance is clearly understood in almost every corner of the globe.

“Salmon’s continued export success sustains more than 2,300 jobs in Scotland, mostly in sparsely populated rural areas.

“This success has led to substantial sums being re-invested into local communities, providing much-needed employment and economic support.”

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, said: “These record-breaking figures demonstrate that demand for Scottish salmon is soaring and highlights the world-class reputation our producers enjoy.

“The need to explore and take advantage of international markets could not be clearer given the current uncertainty around our future trading relationship with Europe.

“This is an important time for the Scottish farmed salmon sector which contributes significantly to the rural economy, supporting families and livelihoods in some of our most fragile communities.

“I’m confident that the Scottish Government and industry will continue to work together to unlock further sustainable growth of this vital sector.”

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