With months to go before Brexit, many uncertainties remain for businesses. What is clear, is that Scottish salmon has a bright future, full of opportunities for our globally successful industry.
Scottish salmon is prized across the world for its quality and provenance. It is enjoyed in more than 60 countries and generated overseas sales of over £600 million last year. The US accounts for almost a third of exports and demand from Asia remains strong with sales in China standing at over £69m – more than sales of Scotch Whisky.
Access to new markets is improving all the time with more and better direct flight connections from Scotland, notably the new direct route between Edinburgh and Beijing. We are confident of realising further opportunities with our salmon and determined to ensure that the quality of our product ensures that Scottish salmon remains highly prized no matter what post-Brexit rules apply.
As the UK pursues an independent trade policy, our ambition is to ensure the voice of the Scottish salmon sector is heard, our influence felt and that the industry’s international trade priorities are taken on board in future trade negotiations. An exciting trading future lies ahead for Scottish salmon if we can secure simple, clear and reciprocal trading arrangements with our key markets now and in the future.
At home, the future is promising too as the UK remains our largest market and salmon is now the UK shopper’s favourite fish. A supportive home environment is important to our continued success here. Secure and reliable transport and infrastructure for easy access to the remote locations we farm in, a strong supply chain and a good local workforce, allied to an ambitious UK trade policy, will help shape a future where we meet the world’s appetite for our globally-renowned salmon.
Along with our industry’s own commitment to invest in its people, we want to see more school leavers equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers in our dynamic sector. The Scottish salmon industry already supports over 10,300 jobs in Scotland and generates over £540 million annually in Gross Value Added (GVA). We have a considerable positive impact in Scotland and we want to build on this.
So are we, as a sector, future-proof?
The industry is working hard to ensure that we are. Our close cooperation with other parts of the food and drink industry has served us well and we continue to collaborate and share ideas and strategies for our collective sustainable futures. We will continue to signal the industry’s needs and challenges to government and regulators. The industry’s ongoing investments in fish health and environmental excellence is testament to its determination to be bold innovators, good employers, responsible producers. And above all, careful custodians of Scotland’s natural environment.
We have the expertise within our industry to meet and exceed our sustainable growth ambitions and, with the right commercial environment and the necessary support beyond Brexit, the world’s premium salmon has a great future.
By Julie Hesketh-Laird, CEO, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation