Last year Scottish food and drink exports rose by 29% from £1.8bn to £2.4bn compared with total exports valued at £10bn.
Ewen Cameron, international senior manager for food and drink at trade development body Scottish Development International, said: “The Middle East offers huge potential for Scottish companies. It remains a core market for Scottish salmon, seafood, beverages and grocery products – targeting both the high-end retail and food service sectors.”
Cameron highlighted the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a particularly lucrative market for Scottish food and drink. Exports to the UAE climbed by 55% to reach £50.1M in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period of 2010, according to the latest Scottish government figures.
During the first half of last year exports of smoked salmon to the Middle East rose by 48% to £2.5M.
Ken Hughes, spokesman for the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), told FoodManufacture.co.uk that UAE was the main Middle East market for Scottish smoked salmon exports.
Rising demand for smoked salmon was being driven by increasing sales in luxury hotels, said Hughes.
Whisky exports to the UAE also rose by 29% to £42M in the first half of last year up from £32.5M during the same period of 2010. Sales to the country made it Scotland’s tenth largest market by value.
Rosemary Gallagher, communications manager at the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) told FoodManufacture.co.uk, that sales to the Middle East reflected rising global whisky exports. Scotland’s global whisky exports are growing at the rate of 22% per year, she said.
Duty free sales
Rocketing whisky sales to the UAE could reflect Dubai’s growing prominence as an air transport hub for the region, resulting in more duty-free sales, added Gallagher.
Meanwhile, Scottish food and drink producers, together with their competitors from around the world, will be gathering at Gulfood 2012 exhibition in Dubai next week, UAE for food and drink firms looking to export to the Middle East.
Claimed to be the world’s largest food and hospitality show, the organisers expect 65,000 visitors from 152 countries to visit the trade stands of more than 800 exhibitors.
Gulfood 2012 takes place from February 19 until 22.