China and seafood top drivers for Scottish food exports

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish food exports reached a record £1.1bn in 2014
Scottish food exports reached a record £1.1bn in 2014

Related tags United arab emirates Food

Fish, seafood and China drove Scottish food export growth over the past year, according to figures just released by the Scottish government.

The data, which was extracted from official Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs export statistics for 2014, show food exports grew by 3.5% on 2013. That was driven primarily by an increase in fish and seafood sales, which rose by £38M.

“These figures are extremely encouraging, particularly long-term, and reflective of the fantastic produce we have to offer here in Scotland,”​ said Scotland’s food secretary Richard Lochhead. “We are now seeing a rise in the popularity of Scottish produce in emerging markets.

“In China for example, we’ve witnessed a massive increase of 82% in food exports, with overall value now up to £46M, evidence that the Chinese appreciate great Scottish seafood and meat.

“Our fish and seafood exports have soared, with sales hitting £613M – up 6.6% on 2013 – due to an increase in exports to Asia and Oceania, the EU and sub-Saharan Africa.”


According to the Scottish government, fish and seafood exports to China, up 92%, and meat exports of £1.4M following the lifting of an import ban on British pork, were fuelling the growth in the country. Food exports to the wider Asia & Oceania region increased by 31% to £113M.

Lochhead today (May 27) announced that Scottish food exports had reached a record £1.1bn, with total food and drink exports valued at £5.1bn in 2014.  

He made the announcement during a visit to Scottish producer Mara Seaweed in Edinburgh, which revealed plans to start exporting to the seaweed-eating nations of Asia by the end of 2015. The market in Asia, where seaweed is used for food, is estimated to be worth billions of pounds.

Ahead of Scotland’s Food & Drink Excellence Awards tonight, run in partnership with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland and sponsored by brands including Food Manufacture​’s sister title The Grocer​, Lochhead said Scotland’s food industry had grown by 20.8% in the past four years, ahead of the UK as a whole, which grew by 8.6% over the same period.

Top five destinations for Scottish food exports

1: US: £800M

2: France:  £734M

3: Spain: £247M

4: Germany: £208M

5: Singapore: £202M

United Arab Emirates

Exports to the United Arab Emirates grew by 25% in 2014 to £124M, catapulting the region from 15th​ to 8th​ Scotland’s biggest food export destinations.

The largest share of food exports was in the fish and seafood sector, with international sales hitting £613M – up 6.6% compared to the previous year.

The rise in value of fish and seafood exports was primarily driven by an increase in exports to Asia and Oceania (up £20M), the EU (up £15M) and sub-Saharan Africa (up £11M), the statistics indicated. That had been helped by a collaborative industry effort to boost overseas demand for Scottish fish and seafood, the Scottish government claimed.

‘Positive growth’

Susan Beattie, head of food & drink at Scottish Development International (SDI), said: “These figures show some really positive growth in particular markets as we start to widen our export base beyond Europe, and broaden the range of food products being exported.

“The results in key markets such as the Middle East illustrate strong demand for our premium produce – Scottish salmon and seafood has been particularly successful, and there is still a huge opportunity for other food and drink products. It’s also heartening to see growth in other categories such as sugar & honey, cereals and dairy.”

Beattie said trade groups were investing in a team of global food and drink specialists to support Scottish food exports.

Related topics Drinks Meat, poultry & seafood

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