Europe’s woes spark hunt for new markets

A DIP in Scotland’s food and drink exports last year blamed on the eurzone crisis is to lead to a greater focus on more promising markets.

Although the industry’s exports reached £5.31 billion – the second highest on record – a drop off in demand from some European countries meant the figure was down 1.4 per cent on 2011.

A drop in consumer spending was seen across Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain but exports to other parts of Europe such as Estonia and Latvia increased.

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Strong gains were also seen in emerging markets across sub-saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International (SDI), said the industry could not ignore some of the global economic issues which have hit exports.

“These results reflect the need for the industry to broaden food exports into new markets, following the success of the whisky model,” she commented.

SDI is working with industry group Scotland Food and Drink and the Scottish Government to develop an export strategy to target new and emerging markets. It is also expanding its presence in regions such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The latest figures also show that the top three destinations for Scottish food and drink exports have changed, with the US overtaking France as Scotland’s top export market during 2012. Booming whisky sales have seen Singapore rise to third – the first time an Asian country has occupied such a high position.