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Brexit has cost UK £100m in lost salmon sales

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Brexit has cost the UK up to £100m in lost salmon sales. Image: Getty, Monty Rakusen
Brexit has cost the UK up to £100m in lost salmon sales. Image: Getty, Monty Rakusen

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Brexit has cost the UK up to £100m in lost salmon sales, according to industry body Scotland Salmon.

Increased red tape and costs triggered by the UK’s departure from the EU in January 2020 has seen exports of Salmon to the trade bloc drop 16% to 44,000 tonnes in 2023.

While export values to the EU were only down 3% to £356m, this was only because strong global demand had driven up prices. Had the sector maintained volumes at 2019 levels, sales would have been above £430m.

Ultimately the sector experienced a net loss of £75m, or up to £100m had it continued to grow at the rate previously expected.  

Mitigating Brexit impact

The impact of Brexit had been mitigated by growth on other markets, particularly Asia and the US, with international sales up 0.5% to £581m – including a 7% increase to the US and 22% to Asia.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, will today (March 28) address MSPs on the constitution, Europe, external affairs and culture committee as part of its enquiry into the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which is up for review after the general election.

Scott will call on the next UK Government to take urgent action and highlight the challenges faced by salmon farmers post Brexit, including: delays created by paperwork and processes; the lack of a new eCertification for export health certificates; and the impact of border control posts.

Speaking ahead of his committee appearance, Scott said: “Scottish salmon is the UK’s largest food export and a major contributor to our economy, with demand rising at home and abroad. And despite soaring sales to Asia and the US, the EU is still the most significant region for our exports, accounting for more than 60% of international sales.

Held back by red tape

“The world-renowned quality of nutritious low-carbon Scottish salmon means that we could significantly grow markets such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. But Brexit red tape continues to hold back the potential of Scottish exports, despite the hard work and investment put in by farmers to address the issues.

“We need the next UK government – whatever formation it is – to ease the burden on exporters so that sectors like ours can sell more Scottish produce, delivering economic growth and creating jobs here at home.”

The Brexit impact of lost sales does not include the direct £3m-a-year cost to farming companies because of the lack of an e-certification scheme.

Meanwhile, the trade report from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which assessed the period between January and December 2023, warns that new trade barrier rules could reverse export growth.

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