for Sunday Herald, 07 September 2014
A huge leap in imports of cheap salmon from abroad has exposed the “utter madness” of the world food trade, say environmental campaigners.
New figures released by the UK government reveal that imports of salmon from the Faroes, Sweden and elsewhere have risen ten times faster than exports. This is despite the claimed success of Scotland’s salmon export business.
The UK now imports nearly two-thirds as much salmon as it exports, often to and from the same countries. Dubbed “the great salmon swap” and denounced as “a consumer con” by critics, the trade is defended by the salmon farming industry and the Scottish government.
Detailed data disclosed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London reveal that UK imports of fresh, smoked and frozen salmon rocketed by over 500 per cent from 11,176 tonnes in 2003 to 69,328 tonnes in 2013. At the same time UK salmon exports rose just 50 per cent from 73,529 to 111,293 tonnes.
The vast majority of the imports were from the Faroe Islands and Sweden, some of which may have originated in Norway. Thousands of tonnes of salmon were also imported from, and exported to the same countries.
Nearly 2,300 tonnes of salmon were imported from Germany in 2013, while just under 2,200 tonnes were exported there. There were also large salmon swaps with China, Poland and Denmark (see tables below).