FOOD and drink: £millions worth of salmon and Scotch whisky exports could be lost

Scotland’s salmon and whisky export markets could be hit by an export ban to Russia.

By Bill Heaney

The SNP propaganda sheet, The National, is reporting that tens of millions of pounds worth of Scottish exports could be lost following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Scotch Whisky Association said Scotland directly exported around £28m worth of whisky to Russia last year, the equivalent of 42m bottles.

Ukraine meanwhile received £3.3m of whisky, the equivalent of £1.8 bottles

The main Scotch whisky firms in Dumbarton are Chivas at Kilmalid, Loch Lomond distillers in Alexandria and Auchentoshan at Mount Blow in Dalmuir.

Scottish Government data showed that £245 million of goods and services were sold to Russia in 2019.

However, the Russian market is markedly smaller than Scotland’s biggest, the US, which stands at £6 billion.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s biggest markets in Europe are France at £2.9bn, the Netherlands at £2.7bn and Germany at £2.4bn.

And separate HM Revenue and Customs data suggested Scotland exported £121 to Russia and imported £200m.

Neither Scottish Government data nor UK data were broken down into specific categories.

Russia is often sold goods including engineering equipment, chemicals, textiles and food and drink.

War in Ukraine could impact the Scottish salmon industry

Scottish salmon has been banned in Russia since 2014 in retaliation against EU sanctions after it annexed Crimea.  However, Scotch whisky is still allowed and remains a large export to Russia.

Furthermore, Ukraine is the 16th largest export market for Scottish salmon as 2777 tonnes of fish, with a value of £2.5m, was sold to the country in 2021.

Former LibDem minister at the Scottish Parliament, Tavish Scott, the chief executive of Salmon Scotland, told The Times newspaper: “The impact of this despicable act of aggression will reverberate throughout the global economy but our only thought is for the safety of the people of Ukraine and we hope that democracy and peace can prevail.”

There are also questions over how sanctions will affect Russian-owned businesses.

The National report states that insulation manufacturer Superglass is owned by Russian businessman Sergey Kolesnikov and The Lindores Distillery is majority-owned by a group of Russian businessmen.

Wealthy Russians have also bought parts of Scotland’s countryside.

Yuri Shefler, of spirits group SPI, reportedly paid £25m for a 21,000-acre Tulchan estate on Speyside in 2017 while Yevgeniy Strzhalkovskiy, whose father Vladimir was a former KGB associate of Vladimir Putin, paid £4m for a 12-bedroom Knockow House and 240 acres on the Cowal Peninsula, near Dunoon.

And Sergey Fedotov bought Castle Grant near Grantown-on-Spey in Moray for £1 million in 2014 after it was repossessed from former Rangers FC owner Craig Whyte.

Fedotov was later jailed in 2020 after he was found guilty of property fraud in Moscow.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government unreservedly condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which is in flagrant violation of international law.

“We are watching the situation closely and call for an immediate cessation of Russia’s aggression, with an assurance of the protection of all civilians within Ukraine.”

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