FOOD exports from Scotland were worth a record £1.1 billion last year, with a surge in fish and seafood sales, new figures for the industry showed.
Scotland’s total food and drink exports were valued at £5.1bn in 2014, a year that saw the country in the world’s spotlight with the hosting of the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup and the independence referendum.
Drink sales were down from £4.2bn but food exports grew by 3.5 per cent on the previous year, according to the statistics taken from HM Revenue & Customs findings.
Sales of fish and seafood were most valuable, up £38 million to £613m last year, with emerging markets in the Middle East contributing to the surge in sales.
The top destination for Scottish food and drink exports remains the United States, with sales worth £800m, followed by France with exports of £734m last year. Spain came third, with exports valued at £247m. The fourth and fifth, ranked by value, were Germany at £208m and Singapore with £202m.
These figures are extremely encouragingRichard Lochhead
Food exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also increased by 25 per cent in 2014 from 2013 to £124m.
The figures represented produce leaving Scotland from a port or airport during 2014.
The sharp rise in export figures was announced yesterday by Holyrood environment, food and rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead.
He said: “These figures are extremely encouraging, particularly long-term, and reflective of the fantastic produce we have to offer here in Scotland.
“Our fish and seafood exports have soared, with sales hitting £61m, up 6.6 per cent on 2013, due to an increase in exports to Asia and Oceania, the EU and sub-Saharan Africa.”
James Withers, chief executive of industry body Scotland Food & Drink, said the growth in exports was partly driven by the growing popularity of the Scottish brand overseas.
He said: “Whether it is a top Japanese sushi chef wanting our salmon or a leading Dubai hotel wanting Scottish cheeses, we are seeing demand grow.”
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said Scotland’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014, as well as the independence referendum, had helped to improve the country’s global profile.
He said: “Scottish food exports have surpassed the £1.1bn mark for the first time, with total food and drink exports valued at £5.1bn in 2014, which is yet further evidence of Scotland’s growing economic strength.”