Total Scottish food and drink exports in the period reached £1.2bn ($1.5bn), an increase of 11% (compared to the same period in 2016). Scotch whisky and Scottish salmon make up 22% of the value of total food and drink exports from the UK.
While the EU remains the biggest export market for Scottish products outside of the UK, the Scotch whisky industry has been commended for leading the way in extending the country’s export footprint further afield.
Europe and beyond
Whisky exports increased from £796.9m ($1,008m) in Q1 2016 to £875.8m ($1,108m) in Q1 2017, up £79m ($100m) and 9.9%.
The top destination for exports is the EU, followed by North America and then Asia, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.
James Withers, Scotland Food & Drink chief executive, said whisky is leading the way as the sector looks to new markets across the world. "Europe remains our biggest market as the destination for 70% of food exports,” he said. “Ongoing, smooth access to that market will be critical for our sector's future.
“However, we are strongly committed to extending our global footprint well beyond Europe, something that the Scotch whisky industry had led the way on. So it's very encouraging to see such strong growth in Asia and North America, with rises of 50% to 70% in the value of food sales in those markets so far this year.”
2016 was a record year for Scotland’s food and drink exports, showing that the sector is going ‘from strength to strength’, said Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing.
“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 regulatory requirements.
“The Prime Minister must include the Scottish Government at the Brexit negotiating table, with the starting point for any new approach the continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.”