Chinese appetite for Scottish salmon leaps

image captionLast year salmon accounted for 36% of the value of Scottish food exports

China has leapt into top spot in the Far East for Scottish salmon exports - just six months after it allowed seafood to be sent directly from Scotland for the first time.

Data from HM Revenue and Customs revealed 2,347 tonnes of salmon were exported to the world's most populous nation in the first half of 2011.

The Far East total for the period was 3,036 tonnes, worth £16m.

China is now the fifth largest export destination for Scottish salmon.

In January, the Scottish and Chinese governments reached an agreement to allow seafood exports directly from Scotland.

The announcement was made when First Minister Alex Salmond met Vice-Premier Li during a visit to Scotland.

Salmon exports to Far East markets - which include China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong - have soared, increasing from £2.1m between January and June 2010 to more than £16m for the same period in 2011.

Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation chief executive Scott Landsburgh said: "From a standing start earlier this year, China has become the fifth largest export destination for Scottish salmon.

"With a significant number of discerning customers who appreciate premium quality salmon, China is a welcome addition to the other 70 global markets in which our sector operates.

"The value of exports to the whole of the Far East region has increased eightfold in 12 months."

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead hailed the figures as "a huge vote of confidence" in Scottish salmon and another boost for Scottish food exports.

He said: "If this is what can be achieved in the first six months, then the sky could be the limit for exports to China.

"The high quality of Scottish salmon is perfect for the increasing popularity of sashimi and sushi and the vast majority of our salmon is exported fresh to meet the growing appetite for Japanese-style premium raw fish in China."

Scottish Development International chief executive Anne MacColl said the announcement was "a true reflection" of Scotland's reputation as a world-leading producer of high-quality seafood produce.

She added: "Our strategy focuses on maximising Scotland's international trade opportunities and we will continue to work alongside industry partners, like Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, to support ambitious Scottish companies as they access new markets."

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