Brexit cost £100 million in lost salmon sales says Salmon Scotland; but sales to Asia up 22%

Editorial Staff

The Brexit impact has been partially mitigated by huge growth to other markets, particularly the USA and Asia, seeing 7% and 22% increases respectively.

Brexit has cost Scotland up to £100 million-a-year in ‘lost’ salmon exports, members of the Scottish Parliament will hear on Thursday.

Scottish salmon is the UK’s largest food export, but farming companies have faced increased red tape and costs triggered by the departure from the EU in January 2020.

In 2019, there were more than 53,000 tons of Scottish salmon exported to the bloc, with the figure falling to 44,000 tons in 2023.

Export values to the EU were only down three per cent to £356 million because strong global demand drove up prices, but if the sector had maintained volumes at 2019 levels, then sales would have been above £430 million.

That means there has been a net ‘loss’ of around £75 million, or up to £100 million had the sector grown at the rate previously expected, according to a release from industry trade body Salmon Scotland.

However, the Brexit impact has been mitigated by huge growth in other markets, particularly Asia and the US.

Overall international sales in 2023 were up from £578 million to £581 million (+0.5 per cent), including a 7 per cent increase to the US and 22 per cent to Asia.

However, with salmon increasingly popular in traditionally smaller European markets such as the Netherlands and Spain, smoother trade flow and new markets would open up the possibility of further economic growth – generating greater investment in the Scottish economy and more high-skilled Scottish jobs.

The Brexit impact of lost sales does not include the direct £3 million-a-year cost to farming companies because of the lack of an e-certification scheme.

The chief executive of trade body Salmon Scotland, Tavish Scott, will today address MSPs on the constitution, Europe, external affairs and culture committee as part of their inquiry into the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) – which is up for review after the General Election.

Talking ahead of his appearance, Scott, emphasized the challenges faced by the salmon farming sector post-Brexit, stating, “Brexit red tape continues to hold back the potential of Scottish exports, despite the hard work and investment put in by farmers to address the issues.”

He underscored the significance of the EU market, noting, “The EU is still the most significant region for our exports, accounting for more than 60 per cent of international sales.” Scott urged the next UK government to “ease the burden on exporters so that sectors like ours can sell more Scottish produce, delivering economic growth and creating jobs here at home.”

Brexit officially took place at 23:00 on January 31, 2020. The UK’s relationship with the EU is governed by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). The TCA entered into force in May 2021 and there is provision in the agreement for a joint review of the implementation of the agreement five years after its entry into force.


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