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May 14th 2021

Scottish salmon farmers provide boost to country's economic recovery with strong sales to EU markets

Scotland's salmon farmers exported a record amount of fresh fish to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021.

Demand for Scottish salmon by European customers remained strong despite significant post-Brexit disruptions to supply in early January.

Figures compiled by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) from information supplied by all of Scotland's salmon producers and released today (Friday 14th May) reveal that 19,410 tonnes of Scottish salmon, worth more than £100 million, were exported to the EU in Q1 of this year. That is an increase of over 8,200 tonnes (+74 per cent) compared to the same period in 2020.

Intense competition in the marketplace however means that while volumes are up, values did not increase at a corresponding rate.

The figures highlight the resilience of the Scottish salmon farming sector and reflect the extensive preparation and additional resources the sector allocated to best maintain the smooth and efficient supply process it previously enjoyed.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said that additional bureaucracy, paperwork, delays and confusion arising from Brexit have left salmon farmers incurring costs of at least £11 million but that he remains confident that 2021 will be a strong year for the sector.

Mr Scott said: "This is a great result for the Scottish salmon farmers and the Scottish economy. As the country and companies start to bounce back from the huge problems presented by Covid these figures show the worth of the salmon sector as an economic driver for Scotland, aiding the country's renewal through job creation and tax revenues.

He added: "Salmon farmers remain vulnerable to the problems caused by Brexit. Export volumes to the EU may well be up for the first quarter of the year but increased delays in getting products to our EU markets have kept values low.

"The SSPO will continue to work with the UK and Scottish governments to find ways to streamline red tape and ensure our members can offer their customers the certainty of getting fresh, nutritious fish to EU markets on time."


Notes for Editors:

  • Scotland's salmon producers are spending an additional £200,000 a month on extra paperwork because of Brexit.
  • Post-Brexit it takes an extra two hours for each seafood load to be processed and given an export health certificate for transport to the EU, and, in some cases this process is taking four hours or longer.
  • The SSPO has previously called for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) to be redrawn, simplified and digitised.
  • Due to the impacts of Covid-19 exports of Scottish salmon to the EU became more important in 2020, accounting for 69 per cent of all global sales in volume (50,000 tonnes) and 64 per cent in value (£288 million) terms, an increase from 56 per cent and 52 per cent in 2019 respectively.
  • In 2020 the Scottish Salmon farming sector publish their Sustainability Charter: A Better Future For Us All - setting out their ambition to be world-leading in the provision of healthy, tasty, nutritious food grown in the most responsible and sustainable way.
Scottish salmon exports to the EU
Volume (tonnes) Value (£m GBP)
2021 Q1 19,410 £104m
2020 Q1 11,150 £84m
2019 Q1 10,999 £69m
Source: Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation; HMRC UKTradeInfo