Scotland’s 5.3 million population represents only one twelfth or just 8% of the UK’s total population of 65.6 million. From January to September 2017, UK food and drink exports increased 11.0% to £16.1bn against the same period in 2016.
Scottish food and drink exports rose to £4.3 billion in the same period. This suggests Scotland produced 26.7% of the UK’s food and drinks exports with only 8% of the population.
This alone indicates a very sustainable basis to underpin the economy of any independent country especially one that already has a long-standing overall trade surplus, massive renewable energy production and, oh, a few billion barrels of oil currently selling at over $60pb. These are just the ‘overseas’ exports from Scotland but how much do we ‘export’ to the rest of the UK? We do know that Scotland’s overall exports to the UK are around £50 billion and that 4.8% of that was food and drink. So that would be £2.4 billion’s worth.
If we can export a total of £6.7 billion’s worth of food and drink, I suspect that we are more than self-sufficient should we need to keep it all in some future crisis. I know, we’d be a bit drunk too if we had to keep all the whisky for some reason. However, see this UK government table showing its massive trade deficit in food:
3.4 UK trade in different food groups, 2016
Note that in 2016: ‘[T]he value of imports was greater than the value of exports in each of the broad categories of food, feed and drink except ‘Beverages’ which had a trade surplus of £1.35 bn, largely due to exports of Scotch Whisky.’
So, given the UK’s massive need for imported food and drink, it looks like our £2.4 billion’s worth of mostly salmon, beef and whisky is quite a small, if tasty, contribution to a hopelessly unsustainable economy.