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Scotland flies the flag for UK food and drink exports. Food and drink companies across Scotland are recovering from the challenges of pandemic with manufacturers taking advantage of new trading relationships around the world, according to research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The FDF’s new UK Food and Drink Exports report reveals the latest breakdown of food and drink exports from across the UK during 2021.

It shows Scotland, alongside Wales and the North East of England, had the strongest recovery in response to the supply chain problems caused by COVID and the new UK-EU trading relationship. An important sign that the food and drink industry can play a vital role in Scotland’s recovery and sustainable growth.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Scotland accounts for the largest share of UK food and drink exports at almost 30% of total exports. Worth £5.7bn exports are up by nearly 15% since 2020.
  • Scotland’s recovery has largely been driven by a strong growth in exports of beverages and seafood products, together accounting for £5.2bn of total Scottish exports.
  • France is now Scotland’s largest export partner, worth more than £1bn, and exports to China nearly doubled in 2021 to just under £225m.

The share of exports to non-EU markets is increasing in Scotland, and there are big opportunities to drive further export growth through new trade deals with increased market access. However, more can be done to improve the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement, to help companies recover exports in the EU alongside growing market share in other global markets.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not factored into this report, and we’re yet to understand its full impact on our sector’s exports and on the global supply chains on which our sector relies for some ingredients, such as vegetable oils, cereals and white fish.

Food and Drink Federation Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer, David Thomson, said:

“Scotland continues to punch above its weight – accounting for the largest share of UK food and drink exports – with an impressive 30% of total exports.

“It’s heartening to see an increase in Scotland’s food and drink exports as the industry begins to recover from the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit. We hope that new opportunities will help further increase sales of Scotland’s food and drink abroad.

“We will continue to work with Scottish and UK governments and partners from across the food chain to support the recovery and growth of our vital industry.”

 Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“Scotland’s food and drink producers not only play a major role in our economy, these figures demonstrate that their high-quality products are being increasingly enjoyed by consumers across the world.

“I am always delighted to see Scottish food and drink products do well on the international stage and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this significant achievement.

“These figures are set against the backdrop of significant challenges presented by the double blow of a global pandemic and Brexit and it is testament to the resilience of our producers and the quality of their products that the sector continues to make such a strong recovery.”