BREXIT is hammering the economy “at the worst possible time”, the SNP have said in response to figures revealing a significant drop in food and drink exports.

A report released by the Food and Drink Federation on Wednesday showed that exports to the EU in the first quarter of the year are down by 17.3% – more than £600 million – on the same period in 2019.

Salmon has been hit especially hard, the figures show, with a drop of 25%. Whisky, however, is performing strongly, with an increase of 9.7%.

Exports to the rest of the world have increased since 2019 by 10.7%. However, this gain (around £222m) is not enough to cover the losses made on trade with the EU post-Brexit (around £628m).

Comparing the first quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2019 overall, UK exports of food and drink are down by 7%. However, imports from the EU have actually increased by 13.3%.

The SNP's shadow secretary for environment, food and rural affairs, Deidre Brock MP, said: "The damage of the Tories' extreme Brexit knows no bounds – with new figures revealing a plunge in food and drink exports to the EU in just the first three months of this year alone compared to the same period in 2019.

"Brexit is continuing to hammer households and businesses at the worst possible time - with Scotland and the UK being hit with rising food prices, increased paperwork and delays, and drop in exports.

"While scandal-ridden Boris Johnson attempts to distract the public with pounds and ounces, the reality is that Scotland's world-leading food and farming sector is being sold out and Brexit continues to cost our economy.

"The only way for Scotland to escape the long-term damage of Brexit is to become an independent country and re-join the EU and the biggest single trading bloc – one which is seven times bigger than the UK market."

The UK Government has been approached for comment.