A RECORD value of Scottish food and drink worth around £6 billion was exported last year, according to latest figures.

Goods from Scotland going overseas rose by almost £570 million in 2017 – about 10 per cent – compared with 2016.

The new HMRC data sticks to a trend of export growth, which has seen food sales surge by more than 130 per cent in a decade.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: "The world is increasingly developing a taste for Scottish produce and it is driving incredible growth for Scottish food and drink businesses and the economy as a whole.

"A few years ago, reaching £6 billion in annual export sales was just an ambition.

"However, industry leadership and a crucial partnership with government has made it a reality.

"It is particularly important to see our food exports increasing in Asia and North America, following in the footsteps of our number one export, Scotch Whisky, which is firmly back into its growth phase."

He added Europe remains the top destination for many products and emphasised the need for a Brexit process which protects this trade, with the industry hoping to double the value of its sales at home and abroad to £30 billion by 2030.

Scotch whisky exports increased by around £356m compared to 2016 and accounted for the large majority of products going overseas.

Last year saw more than £4.3bn worth of the spirit being shipped abroad.

Food exports were valued at about £1.6bn – a rise of 15 per cent during the same period.

Fish and seafood accounted for the majority of food exports and were worth around £944m, up 23 per cent from last year.

Those going to Europe were worth £1.1bn after an increase of 13 per cent, or £125 million.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "Scottish food and drink exports are at an all-time high – with world-renowned Scottish goods like salmon and whisky being consumed across the globe at record levels.

"That’s due in part to sectors working together to sell our remarkable products, and creating or enhancing our national brands.

"The statistics highlight the importance of the EU single market to our food and drink success, with the EU buying more than 40 per cent of our produce.

"The continuing uncertainty surrounding the UK Government’s Brexit plans, and the prospect of losing tariff free access to that market would be potentially devastating for our food and drink industry.

“Confirmation by the UK Government that it wants devolved powers over food labelling to transfer to them creates further risk and uncertainty, when much of our success depends on our ability to market Scottish produce and provenance effectively.

"That’s potentially a huge problem in the long term to our food and drink sector, who share our ambition for further expansion, and to protect our national brands.

“The Scottish Government is doing all we can to support the growth of food and drink exports: working with key sectors to develop new and existing markets, boosting innovation and skills, and supporting Scotland’s local producers via business rates exemptions and grants for example.

“Our aim is to support the food and drink industry’s ambitions to double its value to £30bn by 2030.”