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Brexit threatens UK seafood exports

Brexit could have a “potentially devastating” effect on the value of Scottish seafood exports, which rose by 23 percent last year to £944 million.

Scottish farmed salmon accounted for £600 million of that figure, but politicians warned yesterday that Brexit could have severe consequences – given that 40 percent of Scottish food and drink exports go to the EU market.

Overall Scottish food and drink exports were valued at about £6 billion, of which food exports were worth £1.6 billion – an increase of 15 percent (£214 million) during the same period. Exports of food to Europe were worth £1.1 billion after an increase of 13 percent, or £125 million – enhancing concerns over the possible impact of Brexit.

Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “Scottish food and drink exports are at an all-time high – with world-renowned Scottish goods like salmon and whisky being consumed across the globe at record levels. That’s due in part to sectors working together to sell our remarkable products, and creating or enhancing our national brands.

“The statistics highlight the importance of the EU single market to our food and drink success, with the EU buying more than 40 percent of our produce. The continuing uncertainty surrounding the UK Government’s Brexit plans, and the prospect of losing tariff free access to that market would be potentially devastating for our food and drink industry. 

“Confirmation by the UK Government that it wants devolved powers over food labelling to transfer to them creates further risk and uncertainty, when much of our success depends on our ability to market Scottish produce and provenance effectively. That’s potentially a huge problem in the long term to our food and drink sector, who share our ambition for further expansion, and to protect our national brands*.

James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drinksaid: "It is particularly important to see our food exports increasing in Asia and North America, following in the footsteps of our number one export, Scotch Whisky, which is firmly back into its growth phase. However, Europe remains the top destination for many of our products, emphasising the need for a Brexit process which protects this vital trade.”

"Sales of Scottish food have now risen more 130% in a decade, but we have greater potential still. Our industry has an ambition to double the value of its sales overseas and in our home market to £30 billion by 2030. Today marks an important step along that road.”

Rob Fletcher

Rob Fletcher

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