Scotland’s food and drinks exports increased by over 11% in the first quarter of 2017, generating £1.2 billion.
Sales were up by £124 million on the same period of 2016, with the EU remaining the country’s largest regional export market outside the UK.
Scotch whisky and Scottish salmon topped the UK export chart for the first three months of the year, making up 22% of the value of total food and drink exports from the UK.
Whisky was by far the highest value export at £875.8 million, up £79 million.
Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “2016 was a record year for Scotland’s food and drink exports and these new figures clearly show that the sector is going from strength to strength.
“Food exports for example have grown by 14% on the same period last year, which is a testament to the fantastic work being undertaken in partnership with the industry to increase access and open up new markets.”
With the UK formally entering Brexit talks with the EU today, Ewing said it was ‘crucial’ for Scottish food and drink producers to retain access to the EU single market. “Losing access will put Scottish industry at a significant disadvantage, exposing business to damaging export tariff barriers and regulatory requirements.”
Scotland Food & Drink chief executive James Withers said: “Europe remains our biggest market as the destination for 70% of food exports. Ongoing, smooth access to that market will be critical for our sector’s future.
“However, we are strongly committed to extending our global footprint well beyond Europe, something that the Scotch whisky industry had led the way on. So it’s very encouraging to see such strong growth in Asia and North America, with rises of 50% to 70% in the value of food sales in those markets so far this year.
“These results are the fruits of having a clear export plan and a unique partnership between the industry and government. We believe we can double the turnover of food and drink sector in Scotland to £30 billion by 2030. International sales are becoming an increasing part of that story.”
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