Whisky played an integral part of Scotland’s sales overseas – up 10.8% to £2.2bn from the same period last year – with the EU accounting for almost 30% of all exports.
The EU also bought £543m of total Scottish food exports, just shy of two thirds of the total value, which was an increase of £50m (+10%) compared with last year.
‘Integral part of the economy’
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s food and drink sector continues to go from strength to strength, thanks in part to a close working relationship between government and the industry in recent years. It’s now an integral part of our economy, worth £15bn, and employs thousands across the country.
“These latest figures serve to remind us just how important our European neighbours are to that success though, and exactly how much we stand to lose by leaving the European Union – particularly in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This government will do everything we can to ensure that does not happen and support our food and drink sector to continue to flourish.”
Scotland’s food and drink export success were also bolstered last year by growing demand in Japan for high-quality, sustainable seafood.
Seafood exports quadrupled
Scottish seafood exports to Japan more than quadrupled last year to 2,630 tonnes (t), up from 598t reported in 2017.
Speaking last month, Natalie Bell, head of trade marketing Asia, Europe and Middle East at Seafood Scotland, said: “The Japanese culture values prestige, reputation and respect above all else, with consumers aligning themselves with products and organisations that embody these values.
“The Scottish seafood story is the perfect fit. It is a traditional market, so our continued work here is imperative.”