Shetland salmon exports soar to £135m

Exports of  Shetland farmed salmon rose to £135 million last year amid soaring international demand.

Trade body Salmon Scotland’s regional breakdown of the figures showed 14,850 tonnes were exported from Shetland in 2023 – almost a quarter of the national share.

Sales were up 16 per cent year-on-year, helping to support a total of 470 jobs in the isles.

Chief executive Tavish Scott said: “The demand for nutritious, low carbon Scottish salmon continues to grow at home and abroad.

“It is testament to the hard work of salmon farmers in Shetland and across rural Scotland that our fish has been named the UK’s largest food export in 2023.

“I pay tribute to Shetland farmers and all those working in often harsh conditions who care for their fish and raise them to the highest standards in the world.

“The Scottish salmon sector is ready to invest and create more jobs in places like Shetland, generating even more healthy meals and extra revenue for vital public services.”

Overall, Scottish salmon overseas sales increased by 0.5 per cent to £581 million in the calendar year – equivalent to £1.6 million every day – confirming the fish’s status as the UK’s largest food export.

Scottish salmon exports were higher than the UK’s second largest food export, Cheddar cheese, as well as other popular British products like lamb and beef. 

France once again led the global demand, however the US and Asian markets saw sharp growth – with the popularity of premium high-quality salmon increasing among chefs, restaurants, and consumers.

But while the market demand is soaring, the sector is facing several business challenges.

Values rose in 2023 given the high demand, yet export volumes were down 11 per cent compared to the previous year.

The increased red tape following Brexit continues to add costs and delays for salmon farmers, while the sector is keen to see streamlined reform of regulation in Scotland.

Ahead of this year’s general election, trade body Salmon Scotland has urged all political parties to support the country’s most important food sector.


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