Coronavirus increasingly impacting Scotland’s salmon exports

The controls that have been imposed in various markets to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have made it difficult for some of Scotland’s salmon exporters to get products to customers, and the trade situation is likely to deteriorate before improvements are seen, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) has said.

U.S. President Donald Trump extended a European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland on Saturday, 14 March. Cargo remains exempt from the ban, but the number of trans-Atlantic flights has dropped as a result, significantly reducing bellyhold cargo capacity from the market, according to Air Cargo News.

In a statement commenting on the impact of coronavirus on the farmed salmon sector, SSPO’s Director of Strategic Engagement Hamish Macdonell said that while the trade body’s top priority is people’s health and well-being, it is also determined to play its part in ensuring this crisis eases as quickly as possible.

As the United Kingdom’s most valuable food export, Scottish salmon is prominent in a number of key markets which are now facing restrictions of various sorts because of the coronavirus outbreak, Macdonell said.

“This has led to problems in getting salmon to our customers in different parts of the world, problems which are likely to get worse before they get better,” he said. “As a result, we are working with the Scottish and U.K. governments and environmental regulators to keep fish in the water for longer, where this is appropriate, and looking at other measures to give our members more flexibility in dealing with these market disruptions.”

Macdonell said that so far, working through these measures had been “relatively straightforward” as the preparatory work was done ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit last year, when similar market problems were anticipated.

“It is worth noting, however, that the U.K. market for salmon remains strong at the moment as customers stock up in anticipation of further restrictions at home and some of our member companies are looking actively at market substitution as a way of coping with the ongoing drop off in demand from other parts of the world,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and work with the authorities to do all we can to minimize the disruption caused by this worldwide crisis.”

In 2019, U.K. exports of Scottish salmon amounted to 94,000 metric tons (MT) worth a record GBP 618 million (USD 778.2 million, EUR 696.8 million). France, the United States, and China provided the sector’s top three markets with sales worth GBP 221 million (USD 278.3 million, EUR 249.2 million), GBP 179 million (USD 225.4 million, EUR 201.8 million), and GBP 59 million (USD 74.3 million, EUR 66.5 million), respectively.

Photo courtesy of  Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation


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