Scotland’s food and drink exports increased by over 11 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2016.
In the first three months of 2017, food and drink worth £1.2 billion was exported, an increase of £124 million on 2016.
The EU remains Scotland’s largest regional export market outside of the UK, with exports growing by £50 million.
The latest satistics also show total food exports were valued at £371 million, up £45.5 million (14 per cent) on Q1 last year
Scotch whisky exports increased by £79 million while fish and seafood, the largest food sector, grew by £48 million.
North America was the second largest export destination for food and drink, with the Asia and Oceania region third.
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 per cent 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.
“What is clear from these figures is that maintaining access to the EU single market is crucial for our food and drink producers and our wider economy. Losing access will put Scottish industry at a significant disadvantage, exposing business to damaging export tariff barriers and regulatory requirements.
“Scotch Whisky and Scottish Salmon were the top two UK export products by value in the first quarter of 2017, making up 22 per cent of the value of total food and drink exports from the UK. The Prime Minister must include the Scottish Government at the Brexit negotiating table, with the starting point for any new approach the continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.”
James Withers, Scotland Food & Drink chief executive, said: “This is another incredibly strong set of export results for both Scottish food and drink, building on our momentum.
“Europe remains our biggest market as the destination for 70 per cent 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 per cent to 70 per cent 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.”
Susan Beattie, head of food and drink at Scottish Development International, said: “These latest figures show the growing demand for Scotland’s high quality, premium food and drink products from consumers across the world. Food & Drink businesses have been working hard to capitalise on the opportunities in overseas markets, drawing on the market insights and trade connections of the SF&D in-market specialist team. We will continue to support their international ambitions, working with our partners to deliver the Scotland Food & Drink Export Plan.”