Patrick Hughes: Scottish seafood surfs worldwide wave of approval
Food and drink exports from Scotland rose to a record £5.5 billion last year with significant growth in sales of seafood and whisky helping exports increase by £421 million (8 per cent) in 2016. The growth in Seafood from Scotland rose to £759 million, up from £603 million.
The increase can partly be attributed to the increased collaboration between industry and public sector, working together to identify tangible opportunities to support seafood businesses by breaking down the barriers to trade.
It is at this time of the year that the seafood industry ventures to trade shows across the globe to meet existing and prospective new customers.
Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in Scotland and the fastest growing sector since the recession. Within this, seafood remains one of the key categories growing in importance across both domestic and international markets.
It is now exported to over 100 countries across the world, so having a significant presence at global seafood shows only enhances the reputation of Scotland as a land of food and drink.
Recent shows held in Boston and Brussels witnessed record levels of Scottish businesses attending with representation from across the industry including shellfish, salmon, whitefish and pelagic (open sea species, such as mackerel).
These events are vitally important for the Scottish seafood sector to showcase their wares on a global stage.
Furthermore, the support provided by the Scotland Food & Drink Export Partnership including Scottish Development International and the Scottish Government are instrumental in making them a success.
Being ‘on the road’, also gives us the opportunity to show off to international markets the collective offering of the Scottish food and drink larder.
For example, alongside seafood, we have showcased Scottish craft beer, craft distillers, cold pressed rapeseed oil and artisan dairy sectors to wow the international audience with the sheer quality behind the Scottish story.
Of course, we have the advantage of being able to share with our global neighbours a truly world-class product.
As a result of our enviable environment and the sheer hard work from the seafood sector to ensure that Scottish product maintains the key attributes of quality, premium and freshness, we have an authentic and compelling story to tell.
Scots have always been global travellers. Over the centuries, we have taken pride in sharing our stories, talents and wares with others. In the seafood sector that tradition continues, and its impact back home is as important now as it ever was.
Patrick Hughes is head of Seafood Scotland