Exports of salmon from Scotland bounced back from Covid and Brexit to hit a near-record £614m in 2021.

UK Government figures show that overseas sales of salmon were up 36% on 2020, and  only marginally below the £618m recorded in 2019.

Exports were shipped to 52 different markets last year, with growth across 10 of the top 20 markets. France led the recovery (up £119m to £304m), followed by the USA as the second main market (up £47m to £152m) and China (up £31m to £45m).

The EU accounted for 61 per cent of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports.

Welcoming the news, Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Scottish salmon plays a vital role in our food and drink success story as the UK’s biggest food export, and these figures demonstrate the growing, global appetite for this nutritious and low carbon food source.

“Exports returning to levels close to pre-pandemic in spite of the disastrous impact of Brexit don’t happen on their own.

“This is testament to our resilient and hard-working aquaculture sector. The Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland have also collaborated and supported the industry with new certification requirements to the EU, including setting up and staffing export hubs.”

She pledged that the Scottish Government would continue to support businesses in the aquaculture sector as well as safeguard the marine environment.

Resilient industry

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, commented: “These incredibly encouraging figures demonstrate the global demand for our unrivalled farm-raised Scottish salmon and the resilience of our industry.

“For exports to recover to near record-levels after such a difficult economic period during the pandemic is testament to the hard work and dedication of farmers to sustainable growth in the face of increased costs.

“Maintaining production during the run-up to the festive period was achieved through extensive work done by a committed workforce as labour supply remained tight within the processing sector.”

“As well as creating thousands of jobs and opportunities here at home, farm-raised Scottish salmon is a global success story with high environmental and welfare standards that puts the best-tasting and healthiest protein product on people’s plates.

“But we must also be aware that our Scandinavian counterparts are growing faster and selling more salmon, so it is imperative that government enables a regulatory framework that is both transparent and efficient to ensure that Scottish salmon retains its place as the key flag-bearer for quality exports from Scotland.”

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