D2X_0408Scottish Development International (SDI) have announced a record increase in Scottish food and drink exports, with international sales reaching an all-time high of £4.06 billion during 2009. This news comes as a huge boost for industry leadership group Scotland Food and Drink, which recently unveiled a new strategy for the food and drink industry, setting out plans to grow Scottish food and drink exports to £5.1 billion by 2017.

The figures, which have been extracted from official HMRC export statistics for 2009, show that international sales of Scottish food products soared by 20% to £934 million, while combined total international sales for Scottish food and drink increased by 6% to £4.06 billion.

Seafood exports led the way, with international sales in this sector increasing by 20% to £555 million. This result has been assisted by the burgeoning overseas demand for Scottish salmon, which enjoyed total export sales valued at £285 million (fresh, frozen and smoked), thanks to an increasing global appreciation for the product’s PGI status and its premium taste, quality and character.

Other notable figures are as follows:

• The top three markets for Scottish food and drink were the USA, France and Spain, with total sales to the USA up by 6%.

• In the drinks category, Scotch whisky exports grew by 3% in value to £3.13 billion. Continuing success was enjoyed in France (+13% in value) and the United States (+13%), with Brazil (+44%) and South Africa (+7%) both representing significant emerging markets in 2009.

• For Scottish food products, Europe was the main destination with France, Ireland and Spain listed as the top three export markets. Total export sales to France alone grew by a massive 24% in 2009.

• Other exports markets which experienced a significant uplift in food sales include the Netherlands (up 41% to £41 million) and Germany (up by 43% to £56 million) supported by strong dairy exports and Russia, up by 24% to £54million, supported by strong seafood sales.

The strong international demand for Scottish food and drink is partly thanks to a drive on provenance by Scottish manufacturers, which believe the rising demand for genuine, original Scottish produce presents a huge opportunity for the food and drink industry.

SDI is working with partner organisations such as Scotland Food & Drink, to help companies access new international markets and equip them with the skills and expertise needed to compete at a global level.

Commenting, David Smith, interim chief executive of Scottish Development International, said: “The combination of sustained growth in existing markets and strong interest in Scottish produce from emerging markets means that our food and drink exports have continued to soar.”

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