Scottish food and drink exports reach record £5.5bn

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Celebrating Scottish food and drink export success are (L to R) Patrick Hughes, head of Seafood Scotland and Laurent Vernet, head of marketing, Quality Meat Scotland. See full line up in the article
Celebrating Scottish food and drink export success are (L to R) Patrick Hughes, head of Seafood Scotland and Laurent Vernet, head of marketing, Quality Meat Scotland. See full line up in the article

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Scottish food and drink exports achieved record sales of £5.5bn last year, up 8% on the total achieved in 2015.

Export sales increased £421M on the previous year, the Scottish government revealed yesterday (March 19). Food exports increased 22% to £1.5bn.

Fish and seafood overseas sales reached £156M; 26% more than in 2015.

Scotch Whisky exports also increased by 4% to more than £4bn.

Scottish government rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Since this government came into office, the value of food exports has more than doubled. Food and drink is now one of the standout success stories in our economy, increasing growth and supporting jobs across the country.

‘Breaking down the barriers to trade’

“Our produce has an excellent reputation around the world and it’s clear the industry is going from strength to strength. The increased collaboration between industry, the public sector and the Food and Drink Export Plan are helping this by identifying opportunities to support businesses and breaking down the barriers to trade.”

The EU remained the biggest export market for Scottish food and drink, accounting for 42% of total sales last year.

Scotland 2016 exports

  • Record year
  • Up £421M to £5.5bn
  • 42% of exports to EU

The Scottish government said it was crucial that it continued to have access to European markets after Brexit.

“These figures show the importance of retaining access to the vital European markets, which are currently worth £2.3bn to the sector, and represent our largest export market,”​ said Ewing.

‘Hard Brexit is a major threat’

“We shouldn’t have to face the choice between remaining as part of the UK and the EU single market. The pursuit of a hard Brexit is a major threat to this success and these figures show why we must work to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.”

The Scottish government also revealed it would be launching its new industry exports strategy this week (March 23).

Pictured, left to right are: Patrick Hughes, head of Seafood Scotland, Seafood Scotland, Laurent Vernet, head of marketing, Quality Meat Scotland, James Withers, chief executive, Scotland Food & Drink, Fergus Ewing, cabinet secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Alan Clarke, chief executive, Scottish Bakers, Susan Beattie, head of Food & Drink and Textiles, Scottish Development International and David Williamson, public affairs and communications director, Scotch Whisky Association.

Meanwhile, first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon called for a second Scottish independence referendum, last week. She has since said the referendum would be abandoned, if Prime Minister Theresa May allowed Scotland to remain part of the EU’s Single Market after Brexit.

What they say about Scotland’s 2016 exports

  • “This industry is Scotland’s fastest growing major sector. Yet we have huge ambitions to grow further. We have now doubled food exports since 2007, transforming the level of trade in growing markets like Asia. That is crucial to extend our footprint beyond just Europe which is still the destination for over 70% of our food exports.”

James Withers​, Scotland Food & Drink

  • “These excellent export figures reflect the hard work and dedication of Scottish food and drink businesses and strong consumer demand across the world for their high quality premium products.  We’re pleased to play our part in supporting these companies to grow in the top prospect markets identified in the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.”

Susan Beattie​, Scottish Development International

  • “Scotland’s food and drink sector is in fantastic health, and next week’s strategy launch will outline how we plan to support the industry to build upon this success and further grow the sector to 2030.”

Fergus Ewing​, Scottish government

  • “It’s clear that the sector is leading in the way in terms of the country’s economic and export performance. Scotch Whisky continues to be the most significant part of this success, with overseas shipments making up around three quarters of total food and drink exports.But we need support from governments as we deal with the challenges and opportunities ahead, including Brexit.”

David Williamson​, Scotch Whisky Association

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