Fish sales

Scottish salmon leaps towards record exports

Tavish Scott: bolstering growth

Scottish salmon exports have surged to their highest level in five years as international demand continues to grow. 

New HMRC data analysed by trade body Salmon Scotland shows that in the first four months of 2024 alone, the value of exports soared by £65 million to £250m – a 36% increase on the same period last year.

This was accompanied by a 35% increase in the volume of fish transported.

On a rolling annual basis, exports stand at £645m – representing an 11% increase on last year’s total of £581m and marking the highest sales value since 2019.

Salmon Scotland said that if current growth continues, 2024 could set a record for international sales, further confirming salmon’s position as the UK’s top food export.

The findings come amid calls for the next UK Government to reduce red tape introduced due to Brexit, with the trade body publishing its own manifesto this month.

Salmon Scotland is urging whoever wins the general election on 4 July to improve relations with the European Union to boost exports.

The sector also wants to see the introduction of electronic export health certificates and the elimination of unnecessary paperwork associated with exporting salmon to Europe, which has been costing salmon farmers an estimated £3m every year since Brexit.

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

Scottish Salmon Company
Salmon sales are booming

In the first four months of the year, 26,000 tonnes of Scottish salmon were exported to more than 40 countries, enough for more than 100 million meals.

Despite Brexit, the EU continues to be the key destination for exports, accounting for £153m worth of the total between January and April. Sales to the bloc have soared by £53m, while volume was up by 51% to almost 17,000 tonnes. France remains the single largest market for Scottish salmon, with sales of £143m.

Elsewhere, exports of Scottish salmon beyond the EU increased 14% to £97m, with almost one-in-five salmon heading to the US (£56m – up 13%).

Export growth in Asia increased by 17% in value and 31% in volume, reaching £37m and 3,300 tonnes, respectively.

Further analysis indicates China added £5m market value growth to £26m in the period. 

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “The reputational and economic value of Scottish salmon is immense, as reflected in these latest export figures.

“As exports continue to rise, enhanced legal protection under the UK Government’s Protected Geographical Indication scheme will safeguard the Scottish salmon brand both domestically and internationally.

“Given the critical importance of revenue generation by our farmers, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis, whoever is handed the keys to Number 10 must streamline the export process for fresh Scottish salmon, ensuring quicker delivery to our customers.

“We eagerly anticipate working with the next UK Government to expand exports and boost national prosperity.

“Through salmon farming expansion, we are bolstering Scotland’s economic growth, creating quality jobs in our Highland and island communities, and supplying low-carbon, protein-rich food to meet the needs of a growing global population.”

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