Scottish salmon, more than half of fish and seafood exports from Scotland in 2022

As new data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reveals, Scottish salmon accounted for 56% of all fish and seafood exports from Scotland last year and it is also the UK's largest food export.
Fresh Scottish salmon pieces. Photo: Salmon Scotland.
Fresh Scottish salmon pieces. Photo: Salmon Scotland.

As new data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reveals, Scottish salmon accounted for 56% of all fish and seafood exports from Scotland last year, this is more than half of all such exports. UK national and regional trade statistics further show that fresh and chilled Scottish salmon accounted for 33% of all fish and seafood from across the UK in 2022. A figure that rises to 41% if smoked and processed salmon is also included, accounting for a total of £705 million.

Satisfaction despite economic challenges

Last year, total Scottish seafood exports were valued at £1.04 billion, up 2% on 2021. However, export sales of fresh and whole Scottish salmon were down 6% on 2021 (£578 million in 2022, compared with £614 million the previous year). The volume of fish transported overseas also declined, falling by 26%.

Graphic: Salmon Scotland / UK Trade Info.

Despite this, the Scottish salmon producers' organization is satisfied. They believe that the fall in export volume – something that has also happened to other exporting countries such as Norway – reflects the shortage of supplies worldwide, but also that more Scottish salmon was sold in the UK domestic market, which is valued at around £1.2 billion-a-year.

According to Salmon Scotland, fresh Scottish salmon accounts for over £500 million per annum in fish sales in the UK retail market. This is 48% of the total UK fish market, making it the most valuable single product in this category. It is also the UK's largest and most valuable export food, exported annually to over 50 countries. Some 64% of these sales were to EU countries, although the US and Chinese markets remain popular.

As mentioned, Scottish salmon is the UK's largest food export with a sales value of £578 million, surpassing bakery products, chocolate, cheese, cereals, and lamb.

UK's most popular food export

"Despite a series of economic challenges last year, Scottish salmon farmers continued to meet international demand for the UK's most popular food export", said Tavish Scott, CEO of Salmon Scotland. "This is a phenomenal success story that we can all be very proud of, supporting thousands of jobs in remote areas of the country and contributing hundreds of millions of pounds towards public services".

Tavish Scott, CEO of Salmon Scotland. Photo: Salmon Scotland.

"Scottish salmon is rightly recognised as the best in the world, and is one of the most nutritious products we can eat", added Tavish Scott in his statements following the release of HMRC UK's regional goods trade statistics.

In addition to contributing more than £760 million to the economy each year, Scottish salmon spends £370 million, supporting more than 3,600 suppliers across Scotland. The sector directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and there are a further 10,000 jobs dependent on the sector. "With further responsible and sustainable growth, and with the support of both the Scottish and UK governments, we can continue to build on this success", Scott claimed.

The CEO of Salmon Scotland has repeatedly called on both governments to support the industry in terms of exports, as well as other important concerns such as labor shortage problems, and the need for affordable rural homes for Scottish salmon workers.

About Salmon Scotland

The Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO) changed its name to Salmon Scotland in November 2021. The organization represents every company farming salmon in Scotland along with companies from across the Scottish salmon supply chain, championing the sector's interests. Scottish salmon is UK shoppers' number one fish of choice, but also Britain's top food export to consumers in 54 countries in 2022.

Salmon Scotland works "to help create the conditions for the long-term, sustainable growth of the sector and to give more consumers, at home and abroad, the chance to enjoy this world-renowned, low-fat, healthy protein".

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