Scotland’s food and drink exports have grown by more than 10% in a year, according to new figures.
Food and drink worth £1.2billion was exported in the first three months of 2017, up £124million on the same period in 2016.
Scotch whisky and Scottish Salmon topped the UK export chart in the first quarter of 2017, comprising 22% of the value of total food and drink exports from the UK.
Scotland’s national drink was the highest value export at £875.8 million, following a £79million, 9.9% year-on-year rise, while, with a 14% increase, total food exports were up £45.5million.
Exports of animal feed jumped by 56.5% to £34.5million and dairy and eggs rose by 40.4% to £21.7million, but cereal exports fell 42.6% to £32.3million, while live animals and meat both dropped £0.3million, down 2.1% and 1.5% respectively.
The European Union remains Scotland’s largest regional export market outside of the UK, with exports growing by £50million.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing Said the figures underlined the need for Scottish involvement in Brexit negotiations.
He said: “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 export requirements.
Mr Ewing’s UK counterpart, Michael Gove, said the UK Government will use Brexit to “develop new trade relationships” that benefit Scotland.
Speaking ahead of a visit to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh this week, he said: “Our ambition is for the UK to become a truly global trading nation and there are great opportunities for Scotland’s most celebrated exports such as Scotch, salmon and gin to take advantage of the growing interest in British food around the world.”