Aquaculture for all

Scottish salmon exports surge 9 percent

Atlantic Salmon Economics +3 more

Scottish salmon export sales jumped by nine per cent in the first half of 2023, largely thanks to significant growth in the Asian and US markets.

a salmon's head with a label
12 percent of Scotland's salmon exports were sold under the prestigious Label Rouge designation

The salmon farming sector aims to increase this proportion to 15 percent by 2026

New figures show that salmon from Scotland, which is the UK’s largest food export, recorded a value of £306 million between January and June.

The largest increases by value were to the USA, China, Poland and Taiwan, while there was also huge percentage growth in sales to the Netherlands, Singapore, Japan and Spain.

France remains by far the top international destination for Scottish salmon, and although sales to the country dipped five per cent in the first half of the year, this was more than offset by wider global demand.

Within the EU, the new figures for countries like Poland and the Netherlands – now the fourth and sixth biggest global markets – reflect a growth in other EU hub and redistribution markets.

Overall, non-EU exports rose by 19 percent in the first half of 2023 to £132 million, with EU export sales up by 3 percent, to reach £173 million.

Trade body Salmon Scotland's analysis of HMRC figures, comparing values in the first half of 2023 with the first half of 2022, show that exports to:

  • The USA were up by 10 percent, to £77m.
  • China were up by percent, to £12m.
  • Poland were up by 48 percent, to £17m.
  • Taiwan were up by 174 percent, to £9m.
  • The Netherlands were up by 114 percent, to £9m.

In the 2022 calendar year, fresh, whole Scottish salmon export sales of £578 million were recorded, while the record figure was £617 million in 2019, and the new figures indicate that Scottish salmon is heading for another very successful year.
Although the volume of fish transported overseas fell marginally, this reflected tight global supplies – and the increased international demand is pushing prices up.

Premium Label Rouge salmon – which carries the French quality mark for being the best in the world – currently accounts for around 12 percent of exports, and there is a vision to grow this to 15 percent by 2026, tapping into the markets in Germany, Spain and Italy where the quality mark is increasingly recognised.

Separately, the UK domestic market for salmon is valued at around £1.2 billion-a-year, and the sector’s gross value added (GVA) is worth £766 million for the Scottish and UK economy. Farm-raised salmon directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and a further 10,000 jobs are dependent on the sector.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “The first half of the year has been another period of incredible success for Scottish salmon, reflecting the hard work and dedication of our farmers and the growing demand internationally for our nutritious fish.

“While we face the same challenges as many sectors – including too much red tape, labour shortages, housing supply issues and the impact of climate change – the extraordinary success of our sector is something to be incredibly proud of.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland and Exports, Lord Offord, said: “These are incredibly encouraging figures for Scottish salmon exports and point towards another strong year for the sector.

“The UK Government will do all we can to help the sector continue this growth in the months and years to come.”

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