Scottish food and drink exports to Asia increase to £1 billion

Scottish producers sold more than £1 billion-worth of food and drink to Asia last year.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the figures showed the food and drink industry was in 'rude health'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Exports to the target market grew by 7% in 2016, with increased sales for dairy produce, fish and seafood and whisky.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the figures “clearly show our food and drink industry is in fantastic health”.

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Food and drink sales from Scotland to Asia grew by £72 million to £1.055 billion in 2016, trade statistics from HM Revenue and Customs revealed.

As part of that whisky exports rose by 3% to £895 million.

Overall food exports grew by 41% to a value of £160 million - with £66.5 million of this coming from the fish and seafood sector after its sales increased by 16%.

Meanwhile exports of dairy produce and eggs were up by 71%, while sales of fruit and vegetables grew by 28%.

Mr Ewing said: “Since this government came to office, the value of food exports has more than doubled.

“It is clear the partnership approach between industry and government has been pivotal in making food and drink one of our standout economic success stories.”

With Brexit looming, Mr Ewing said that “retaining access to vital European markets, which account for around 40% of our food and drink exports, remains a priority”.

But he stressed: “We must also continue to extend our reach and these statistics show we are doing just that.

“Our produce has an excellent reputation around the world and it’s clear the industry is going from strength to strength.

“That is why we are doing everything to help support and grow food and drink exports further, as outlined in the new £10 million industry-led strategy to assist the sector in realising its ambition to double turnover value by 2030.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food And Drink, said: “The impressive growth in food and drink exports to Asia reflects the hard work on our industry export plan.”

Susan Beattie, head of food and drink at Scottish Development International, said: “Asia continues to be a priority under the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.

“The team of in-market specialists in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan are helping Scottish companies access new opportunities in this dynamic market on a daily basis, opening doors to leading retailers and food service organisations.

“The recent export figures demonstrate strong consumer demand across this rapidly growing region for Scotland’s high-quality premium food and drink products.”