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Record high for food and drink exports

27 March 2012

Issued by Scottish Enterprise

Exports worth £5.4 billion in 2011 - up 19 per cent on previous year


Scotland's food and drink industry is continuing to boom, with all-time high exports of £5.4 billion last year, underpinned by strong performance from the whisky industry.

The full-year figures for the food and drink exports reveal that industry growth has exceeded all expectations - with the target to increase exports to £5.1 billion by 2017 surpassed six years early. Last year whisky exports were worth a record £4.23 billion (23 per cent up on 2010), while fish and shellfish were the highest value food sector export, (up four per cent to £648.4m).

Scotland's top food and drink exports markets were France (up 18 per cent to £825m) and the USA (30 per cent increase to £726m). Strong growth was achieved in Asia, with 44 per cent increases in both Singapore (£319m) and China (92m).

The 2011 export statistics also reveal that:

  • The US remained the key market for whisky exports, with a 31 per cent increase to £655m, followed by France, up 27 per cent to £535m.
  • Food exports increased nine per cent year-on-year, to a record £1.16bn, with fish and shellfish accounting for 56 per cent.
  • Fruit and vegetables was the food sector that achieved the fastest growth, soaring by 62.4 per cent, to £62m.
  • Europe provided the main export markets for food with the top three being France (£289m), Ireland (£104m) and Spain (£87m).

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scotland is rightly hailed as a land of food and drink, which is underpinned by the record exports achieved in 2011. This demonstrates that people around the world are appreciating the high quality and delicious products that Scotland's larder has to offer.

"With exports increasing by more than a fifth, the whisky industry has seen hugely impressive year-on-year growth, while Scotland's iconic seafood remains at the heart of our food exports offering. It's also heartening to see a substantial 60 per cent boost in fruit and vegetable exports.

"Food and drink is a Scottish success story at a time when other industries have struggled and economic conditions have been tough. Therefore I congratulate our hard working producers and organisations who deliver such excellent and premium food and drink.

"Strong food exports to our key European partners have been backed by significant growth in the key US market. And new and emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East are also continuing to expand. The sky is the limit for Scottish food and drink and I'm certain we will continue to build on this success in 2012."

James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said: "Our food and drink industry is Scotland's biggest growth story right now. These new figures mean that the 10 year target industry set itself in 2007 - to grow our total exports by 38 per cent - has been achieved six years early. Whisky has been a trailblazer across the globe. But our food sector is now following its lead, with exports up a staggering 62% in just four years, as our reputation as a Land of Food and Drink grows day by day.

"Critically, we have the industry - from the salmon and seafood sectors, to red meat and whisky - all working together under one roof through Scotland Food & Drink. That gives us a stronger platform to work in partnership with government to achieve growth we haven't seen before.

"These figures are a real bright spot in tough economic times. But our export industry has much further still to go. From next month, Scottish Development International and Scotland Food and Drink, working with industry, will have a joint dedicated resource on the ground in China to open up opportunities in the market there. That model will be rolled out in other key markets to ensure we maintain the remarkable momentum we have now developed."

Anne MacColl, Chief Executive, Scottish Development International, said: "This is a fantastic result and these figures further reinforce Scotland's growing international reputation as a world leader in the manufacturing of premium quality food and drink products.

"It's vital that Scottish food and drink companies broaden their horizons and take advantage of the changing patterns of international trade in order to realise their own growth potential. And that's where SDI comes in - working with Scotland Food and Drink, we are committed to helping home-grown companies achieve their global ambitions and in doing so, drive long-term sustainable growth back into the Scottish economy."


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