Scottish salmon was the UK’s biggest food export in 2022, new HMRC figures have revealed.
Sales of the nutritious fish grown in cold waters off the Highlands and islands reached £578 million in the calendar year, with France leading the global demand.
European destinations dominated as the sector continued to bounce back from Brexit. Scottish salmon was exported to 54 countries, with North America and Asia reporting strong demand.
Overseas Scottish salmon sales outperformed all the UK’s other main food exports including bakery goods, chocolate, cheese, cereals and lamb.
Farm-raised salmon directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and a further 10,000 jobs are dependent on the sector.
Fresh, whole Scottish salmon export sales of £578 million were down just six per cent on 2021 (£614 million) and a similar rate below the record £617 million in 2019.
The EU accounted for almost 64 per cent of sales, with the US and Chinese markets remaining popular.
The volume of fish transported overseas fell by 26 per cent, reflecting tight supplies globally and more Scottish salmon being sold in the UK domestic market – which is valued at around £1.2 billion-a-year.
During 2022, Scottish salmon celebrated the 30th anniversary of holding France’s prestigious ‘Label Rouge’ certification at the British embassy in Paris, while trade body Salmon Scotland was also welcomed into the global leading body for chefs, Worldchefs.
A university analysis also found that Scottish salmon is even more nutritious than thought – providing more than 70 per cent of daily vitamin D needs in a single portion.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “Scottish salmon is an extraordinary global success story that we can all be immensely proud of, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy.
“With such pressure on public services during the cost-of-living crisis, the revenue generated by our farmers has never been more important.
“Scottish salmon, grown sustainably in the cold waters off our west coast, is recognised as the best in the world – which is why it is in such high international demand.
“Through responsible growth of the blue economy we can help feed the world, rearing one of the most nutritious foods that we can eat.
“Thank you to everyone involved from egg to plate for delivering such a successful year for Scottish salmon.”
Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “It is fantastic to see strong sales of Scottish salmon in 2022 and I want to congratulate everyone in the sector on another successful year.
“Scottish salmon is a world-renowned brand and its success is testament to the quality of Scottish salmon as a product.
“That is why we are committed to our ongoing work to encourage investment in research, development and innovation in Scotland’s aquaculture sector alongside robust management measures, so that consumers can continue to have confidence in the sustainability of Scottish seafood.
“Food and drink is one of our priority export sectors and the continued growth in global markets means more jobs and investment across Scotland.
“We will continue to engage with and listen to the Scottish salmon industry to understand how we can improve export opportunities and remove barriers to trade.”