Salmon exports boom but farmers warn of Scandinavian threat

Sales of the fish rose to £614 million last year, an increase of 36% from the year.

Dan Barker
Friday 11 February 2022 16:18
Figures show salmon export sales boomed last year (PA)
Figures show salmon export sales boomed last year (PA)

Scottish salmon exports rose to near-record levels last year as fish farmers sold more than £600 million worth of the delicacy across the globe, latest figures show.

Sales of the fish soared to £614 million in 2021, an increase of 36% from the year before, according to official HMRC figures, cementing its place as the UK’s biggest food export.

The French were the biggest buyer, with sales up 64% to £304 million, meaning half of all exports headed to dinner plates across the Channel.

Meanwhile, Americans snapped up a quarter of all sales, at £152 million, last year, a rise of 45%. China was third, spending £45 million on the fish, an increase of £31 million.

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

However he warned: “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.”

The near-record figures for 2021 are only marginally below the £618 million in sales recorded in 2019.

Salmon exports soared to £618 million in 2021 (PA)

Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said the figures “demonstrate the growing, global appetite for this nutritious and low-carbon food”.

She added: “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.”

Exports were shipped to 52 different markets last year, Salmon Scotland said, with growth across 10 of the top 20 markets.

Sales to the European Union made up 61% of all trade, a rise of 29%, while the rest of the world accounted for 39%, a rise of almost half.

Across Scotland, 10,000 jobs are dependant on the sector, with 2,500 people directly employed in the industry.

A UK Government spokesman said: “We are delighted that salmon exports are surging – it’s testament to the quality of a renowned product.

“We work closely with Salmon Scotland through our Scottish Seafood Industry Action Group and other forums, helping them to speed salmon to customers at home and abroad.

“The UK Government is determined to help the seafood industry as a whole maximise new opportunities, to the benefit of our coastal communities.

“The trade deals we are striking now can help Scottish food and drink producers reach customers in a genuinely global market.”

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