Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Sharp slump in export sales for Scottish food and drink icons

Post Thumbnail

Scotland’s top two food and drink exports suffered a sharp slump in sales in 2020 as Covid-19 and a punitive US tariff hurt both national icons.

Global exports of whisky fell by more than £1.1 billion (23%) last year, badly affected by a 25% tax on sales in the US, trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) revealed yesterday.

And official figures published by HM Revenue and Customs show exports of Scottish salmon also fell by 23%, to 72,155 tonnes, compared with 94,315t in 2019.

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) said the pandemic had a “significant and damaging” effect on exports of the nation’s biggest food export.


Last night, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The latest statistics show just how damaging the coronavirus pandemic has been for overseas sales of Scottish food and drink, including farmed salmon – our most important food export.

“But it’s not the only issue the sector has had to deal with – Brexit has caused huge uncertainty and is having a catastrophic impact on Scottish seafood.”

The whisky export figures are the lowest they have been in a decade.

According to the SWA, the export value of Scotland’s national drink slumped to £3.8bn last year and volumes fell by 13% to the equivalent of 1.14 billion standard 70cl bottles.

The value and volume of exports to most of the top 10 markets fell as countries went into lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19.

But it is the continued impact of tariffs on exports of single malts to the US – part of a tit-for-tat transatlantic row over aerospace subsidies – that has caused the most significant losses.

Whisky exports to the US fell by 32% last year, to £729 million, a loss of £340m compared to 2019 and accounting for around one-third of total global export losses.

These figures are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by distillers over the past year.”

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association

The industry has repeated calls for more support for distillers in the UK Budget on March 3.

The SWA wants Chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut spirits duty to mitigate the “significant damage” being done to the industry.

Karen Betts, the group’s chief executive, said: “These figures are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by distillers over the past year, as exports stalled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and US tariffs.

“In effect, the industry lost 10 years of growth in 2020 and it’s going to take some time to build back to a position of strength.”

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts.

SSPO said the impact of the pandemic, which shut food service outlets around the world and greatly restricted air transport, hit distant markets for Scottish salmon the hardest.

Sales in China were down 76% by value, while sales to America suffered a slump of 42%.

Exports to the EU became more important last year, accounting for 69% of all global sales by volume and 64% by value, up from 56% and 52% respectively in 2019.

SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott said producers were confident exports would revive as markets open up and 2021 would be a good year for the sector.

But he warned the greater emphasis on sales to the EU had left producers more vulnerable to problems caused by Brexit.

He added: “Our members are suffering from the burden of excessive bureaucracy and red tape which is making it difficult for them to compete.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in