According to statistics, in the third quarter of the year, the North Coast and West Highlands produced the most fish – 26% of the total, or 15,900 tonnes; Argyll and Clyde followed with 14,000 tonnes, or 23% of production; followed by Shetland with 20 percent of production (12,400 tonnes); the Outer Hebrides with 19 percent (11,700 tonnes); and Orkney then on 11 percent (6,700 tonnes).
Atlantic salmon farm gate prices declined seasonally during the early stages of the third quarter before recovering at the end of the period. However, they remain far from the returns recorded before the pandemic at the end of 2019.
In addition to financially benefiting communities, the salmon sector directly employs 2,500 people, paying them average salaries of around £ 38,000.
Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said the figures were “great news” for Scotland, for rural communities and for the country as a whole.
“Sales of fresh and chilled Atlantic salmon to the EU have now reached record volumes, helping to maintain its position as the UK’s leading food export,” Scott said.
Almost £ 192million of salmon was exported from Scotland in the third quarter of 2021, down slightly from the £ 202million in the second quarter. However, overall Q1-Q3 exports in 2021 eclipsed the whole of 2020 during the pandemic.
This happened despite the challenge of many key opportunities and routes to the market for Scottish salmon which remained closed or below capacity during the period.
“Chilled salmon volumes increased by 2% in terms of volume and value during the year up to the end of October. This meant that we maintained the growth recorded in retailing during the early stages of the pandemic as food outlets were closed, ”said Scott.
“We plan to produce a total of 217,000 tonnes this year, which will represent an increase of 9,300 tonnes, or 4.5%, over 2020,” he added.
Scott said he was optimistic about the future of the industry. “As more companies return to full capacity, the outlook for domestic consumption in the restaurant and hospitality sector is expected to remain positive.
“Indeed, consumers will take the opportunity to eat more often in restaurants while cooking and tasting salmon at home. ”
He continued, “The industry is proving how robust and agile it is in tough market conditions. This is clearly very good news for the rural and island communities of Scotland and for all who live and work there.
“As a sector, we will remain a major employer as we consolidate our position in the market and as we grow and prosper in the future. ”