Salmon sees scaling of UK market share and 'strong' global demand, says Scottish trade body

Sales of salmon in UK retailers are running at a collective £1.2 billion and almost 68,500 tonnes, while the fish has also seen a year-on-year increase in market share, according to new data published today by a Scottish trade body.

The new figures from Salmon Scotland, using data from HMRC and NielsenIQ, show that in the year to October, salmon comprised 29.6 per cent of total fish sales – up from 28.9 per cent 12 months ago, despite lower volumes and higher prices for all food at the checkout. International sales of Scottish salmon were also found to have remained “strong”, seeing £530 million in fresh and smoked exports in the first three quarters of 2022 – with the most recent three months higher than pre-pandemic levels for fresh exports at £165m, and only down around 9 per cent on the “record-breaking” 2021 figures.

European demand has seen the proportion of exports to the EU hit 76 per cent in the most recent quarter, despite extra red tape caused by Brexit, said the trade body, which is led by former Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Tavish Scott. It also said Scottish salmon remains the UK’s biggest food export, followed by bread and pastries, chocolate, cereals, and cheese. “With reports of turkey shortages this year and the deepening cost-of-living crisis, Scottish salmon is expected to be in high demand in the coming weeks as families prepare their Christmas dinners,” the Edinburgh-based organisation stated.

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It added that the new figures come at the end of a “highly successful” year for the sector, saying it has seen the Scottish Government recognise the contribution of farm-raised salmon to the blue economy – defined as sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth. Salmon Scotland also noted that in 2022 it was welcomed into Worldchefs, which it says is the world’s leading body for chefs, and a university analysis found that Scottish salmon is even more nutritious than previously thought – providing more than 70 per cent of daily vitamin D needs in a single portion.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott, who took on the role in 2020 after serving as head of external affairs at Scottish Rugby, said: “With food price rises, soaring energy bills and rampant inflation, the fact that salmon has increased its share of the UK market demonstrates the popularity of our fish. With the busy Christmas period upon us, our farmers are working hard to ensure that we can meet the demand for nutritious salmon to be served on dinner tables across the country.

“A high level of domestic seafood consumption is not only healthy for the population, but it will also help the economy in some of the most rural areas of Scotland combat the challenges being faced by many at this time. Our sector is not without its own challenges, and we can’t hope to repeat the record-breaking performance of 2021, but international demand remains high – particularly in France, where Scottish salmon is recognised by chefs, restaurants and consumers as the best in the world.”

The data also follows the launch earlier this month of Salmon Scotland’s wild fisheries fund that will see £145,000 invested by Scotland’s salmon farmers next year to stem the decline in fish numbers.

A high level of domestic seafood consumption will help the economy in some of the most rural areas of Scotland, stresses Salmon Scotland boss Tavish Scott. Picture: contributed.
Fresh and smoked exports of Scottish salmon amounted to £530 million in the first three quarters of 2022. Picture: Stoyanov & Jones.

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