French appetite for Scottish food
Renowned as a nation of gourmets, the French clearly appreciate the finer things in life when it comes to food - and that's certainly true when it comes to Scottish produce.
The latest figures show that France was the top market for Scottish food exports in 2010, consuming £276 million worth of food - everything from fish and shellfish to fruit and vegetables.
But it wasn't just France where Scottish produce dished up export success. The top markets for Scottish food exports in 2010 were:
- France - £275.7 million
- Irish Republic - £98.2 million
- Spain - £86.8 million
- Germany - £72.9 million
- Italy - £68.6 million
While fish exports continue to account for the majority of food exports from Scotland (59 per cent in 2010), the sector that saw the biggest growth was fruit and vegetables. The value of exports in this sector grew by £14.6 million, or 62 per cent, in 2010.
When it comes to drink exports, the market is dominated by whisky and the USA remains the top destination with £499 million worth exported in 2010.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"As Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight comes to a close, I think it's fitting that we should celebrate the successes that the sector has achieved. Just as importantly, I would urge everyone - both at home and abroad - to go out and enjoy a taste of Scotland.
"I believe the quality of food and drink that Scotland has to offer is truly second to none and it's great news that, increasingly, our produce is cultivating an impressive reputation overseas.
"2010 was a record year for food and drink exports and there's every sign that 2011 will be similarly successful. Figures for the first half of 2011 show that for both food and drink exports are higher than ever before and on track for another record year. For the first time ever, food and drink exports broke the £2 billion mark in the first six months of a year.
"The food and drink sector is a valuable part of Scotland's economy, and growing the export demand is a key part of this. That's why we are continuing to support businesses to help them achieve continued export growth - which can only be a good thing both for the businesses themselves and the economy as a whole."
One company focused on growing export demand is Mackie's at Taypack whose 2010 turnover for their luxury crisp business was £1.65 million and is on target for a 50 per cent increase this year.
The company - who received Scottish Government Food Processing Grants totalling £845,000, in 2008 and 2011, to construct and equip their manufacturing facility - now have their sights set on export opportunities, particularly to the USA. Part of the £150,000 support from the Scottish Government's Marketing Development Scheme has been targeted at increasing USA exports.
Managing Director Kirstin Mackie said:
"Mackie's strength is in the product and its provenance. The crisps have a unique dry texture created by our cooking process and we have created an interesting array of flavours including some particularly Scottish flavours - like Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper or Flamegrilled Aberdeen Angus.
"The texture and flavours of Mackie's crisps make them different to the local competition, even our Salt & Vinegar is an unusual flavour for the Americans. It is a hugely exciting opportunity, we now have six agents across America to create new relationships with the USA retailers. We also have local distribution and USA packaging ready and the timing is now right for us to begin exporting to these new customers with crisps made from this year's new potatoes."
Chief executive of Scottish Development International, Anne MacColl, said:
"We have been working in partnership with industry organisations to encourage Scottish food and drink companies to become more internationally ambitious, and to proactively target new markets.
"In the last year we have led delegations of Scottish companies to major international trade shows such as the European Seafood Exposition (Brussels), the Boston Seafood Show (Boston), Gulfood (Dubai), SIAL (Paris) and Summer Fancy Foods (New York) and as a result of this activity, the international profile of our food and drink industry has benefited significantly.
"The strong export performance for the first half of 2011 show that this approach is paying off, and that our food and drink sector remains ambitious, competitive and has a product which is very much in demand."
James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said:
"Once again, Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight has focused all of our minds on our superb larder and, combined with these extremely encouraging export statistics, has really demonstrated that Scotland punches above its weight when it comes to food and drink.
"Our industry is one of which we should all be proud. Well beyond this year's fortnight of celebration we must all ensure that we continue to promote and enjoy Scotland as A Land of Food and Drink in order to maximise opportunities both at home and abroad."
Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight ran from September 3-18. Running throughout Scotland, the event celebrated Scotland's food and drink, promoting the benefits of fresh seasonal produce.
Scottish food and drink exports reached an all-time high of £4.5 billion in 2010, up 28 per cent since 2007 and up 11 per cent on the previous year.
Figures for the first half of 2011 from uktradeinfo.com show food and drink exports now stand at £2.4 billion - up 21 per cent on the same period last year. This is the first time that food and drink exports have broken the £2 billion mark in the first six months of a year.
Mackie's at Taypack is a joint venture between ice-cream manufacturer Mackie's of Scotland and Taypack, one of the UK's biggest potato growing and processing businesses. Their Scotch Bonnet Crisps won the snacking category award at Scotland's Food and Drink Excellence Awards 2011.
SDI supports the work of Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scotland Food & Drink to grow the food and drink industry in Scotland, by working to ensure that companies have access to the international expertise, networks and events needed to enable them to exploit international opportunities.