Sales of Scottish salmon to China surge 57% as UK’s H1 food exports hit all-time high of £12bn

Editorial staff

Farmed salmon was the UK’s biggest food export in 2022, with sales of £578 million.

The UK’s food and drink export value soared to a record £12 billion in the first half of 2023, marking a nearly 4 percent increase from the same period the previous year, according to the latest data from national trade body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Exports to the EU witnessed a 7.6 percent uptick, with shipments to Ireland alone growing by 9.5 percent. However, it wasn’t just the European neighbours that had a growing appetite for UK produce. Outside the EU, significant growth was observed in markets like Singapore (+53.7 percent), China (+23.7 percent), and Taiwan (+17.2 percent).

China’s increased demand was largely driven by a spike in UK whisky, which saw a 37.6 percent rise, salmon at 57 percent, and an impressive 295.7 percent growth in cheese exports.

However, not all was smooth sailing. Despite the surge in export values, volumes portrayed a different story. The FDF report highlighted that while export values reached unprecedented levels, volumes for many top exports like chocolate, salmon, and gin declined by 16.3 percent, 9.6 percent, and 12.4 percent respectively.

Commenting on the findings, Dominic Goudie, FDF’s Head of International Trade, said, “Trade in UK food and drink is stabilising after the challenges posed by Brexit, the pandemic, and other global events leading to disruptions and fluctuating costs. This growth showcases our industry’s resilience and future growth potential.”

However, he stressed the need for governmental cooperation to address the decline in export volumes, adding, “We need the government to collaborate with the industry to help reverse the declining export volumes both to the EU and globally.”

The salmon farming industry employs 2,500 people in Scotland and a further 10,000 jobs are dependent on the sector.

Farmed salmon was the UK’s biggest food export in 2022, with sales of £578 million (€660 million/$715 million), according to figures compiled by the British government.

In April, the UK agreed to join the trade bloc Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

CPTPP is made up of 11 countries in the Asia Pacific and Americas regions, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Entry will eliminate most tariffs on UK fish and seafood exports as well as simplify rule of origins regulations, and is expected to create further opportunities in key east Asia markets.


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