The value of Scottish farmed salmon has soared by £100 million in the past year as its
popularity abroad in particular continues.
Salmon producers have recorded sales of £633m in 2013, a rise of 18 per cent on the previous 12 months.
And they believe strong consumer confidence, particularly in Japan and America, will further enhance its position as Scotland’s largest food export.
Since 1993 the value of farmed salmon has risen almost five-fold, from £130m.
The latest figures have been released by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) ahead of Europe’s biggest seafood exhibition in Brussels, which begins today.
The SSPO said the figures show how important the trade is for the Scottish rural economy.
Production tonnage has increased from 36,000 tonnes in 1992 to 152,000 in 2013.
The organisation said a key driver for the growth is the continued success of Scottish farmed salmon in export markets, with around 60 countries now buying the fish.
Recent exhibitions and trade missions to Singapore and India have indicated a significant interest from chefs, hotels, retailers and consumers.
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the SPPO, said: “We have seen fantastic growth in the value of the farmed salmon over the years.
“Export values are now around £450m – this success story is the result of the industry’s innovation, high standards and dedicated workforce.
“We are optimistic that the Brussels exhibition will bring back further business which in turn will be good news for jobs, local economies and continued investment in sustainable salmon farming.”
Fish farms employ in excess of 2,200 people, while the Scottish government states that around 6,000 jobs are reliant on the aquaculture industry.
The worldwide retail value of Scottish farmed salmon, after being exported, is more than £1 billion. The United States is the largest export market for Scottish farmed salmon, followed by France, with growing volumes heading to emerging markets such as the Far East and Middle East.
In the UK, one million fresh salmon meals are eaten daily, with one million smoked salmon meals eaten every week.
Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is world renowned for delicious, high-quality and healthy farmed salmon.
“We are recognised around the world for best practice in aquaculture. Salmon is our largest food export and I am pleased with the continued impressive growth in production.”
Chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, said: “The salmon sector is providing a real model to follow for the rest of our food and drink industry and it has cemented its place as Scotland’s top food export. Our international ambitions are huge and salmon continues to demonstrate that world-class production standards and unrivalled eating quality is a powerful combination in building Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink.”
Scottish farmed salmon has been awarded protected geographical indication status by the European Commission.
However, the rise in value and production of farmed salmon sparked anger in some quarters.
Andrew Graham-Stewart, director of the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland), said: “The salmon farming industry’s growth has come at a heavy environmental cost.
“The negative impact of sea lice – produced in huge numbers by fish farms – on wild salmon and sea trout numbers is widely accepted by fisheries scientists including the Scottish Government’s own Marine Scotland Science.”