Scottish salmon exports reach record value in first half of 2017
Scottish salmon exports reached a record value of £346m in the first half of 2017 - up 70% on the same period last year, government figures reveal.
The industry saw 29,000 tonnes of fresh salmon worth £190m sold in the second period of this year alone.
That was a near 10-tonne increase on the 19,150 tonnes (£109m) exported in the corresponding period of 2016.
The United States remains the largest market, while China (£44m) is the most significant Asian buyer.
The HMRC figures are a welcome boost to the industry following revelations that it is facing major problems from sea lice.
It is believed Scottish producers are having to spend at least £30m a year on measures to respond to the issue.
However, consumer demand for the fish has continued to rise - pushing prices to record levels.
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), hailed the latest export figures.
And he pointed to the development of the Far East marketplace as being a major factor.
'Worth the effort'
Mr Landsburgh said: "The fact that annual Chinese exports are now worth around £90m from a standing start six or seven years ago indicates that this has been worth the effort.
"East Asian markets are becoming increasingly significant, with Taiwan and Vietnam in the top 10 importers.
"We continue to see the huge global opportunity for high-quality Scottish food and for salmon, in particular.
"Quality and provenance are highly prized in all markets and Scottish salmon fits the bill. Its traceability from source to plate is another respected attribute in the Far East."
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the figures were good news for Scotland's aquaculture industry, "clearly demonstrating that demand is growing around the world for quality salmon".
He added: "It is proof that our industry is thriving and testament to the hard work going on between government, stakeholders and industry to support sustainable growth and access to new markets.
"Particularly pleasing is the success of our work to unlock more markets in the Far East, which have been key industry target areas.
"However, this success simply underlines the importance of ensuring Scotland's food and drink exports are protected from the potentially damaging consequences of Brexit."