Scottish spending on takeaways increased by 9% last year to cross the £1 billion mark, according to new figures.

Research by Retail Economics, commissioned by the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC), put the figure at £1.01 billion for Scotland and £12.5 billion across the UK.

It suggests the sector is growing at roughly twice the rate of the overall economy, and spending could hit £15 billion by 2023.

The BTC is using the figures to call for an urgent acceleration of plans to up-skill young people, with a points-based immigration system to help takeaway owners recruit skilled chefs from abroad.

Ibrahim Dogus, BTS chairman, said: “The takeaway sector has firmly established itself as an engine room of the economy – providing growth, jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs to start up their own thriving businesses.

“And as people look for healthier and more diverse eating options, they aren’t turning away from takeaways – they are turning towards them.

“What we need from the Government are policies that support this great British success story.

“That means more vocational training for young Brits and an immigration system that ensures that skilled chefs can come to the UK too.”

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Man eating fast foodRecent Food Standards Scotland research revealed the majority of Scots are in favour of mandatory calorie labelling in takeaway menus (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The figures estimate the average household spend on takeaways north of the border has grown 5% since 2015 to £35 a month, despite obesity being recognised as a major problem in Scotland.

The figures emerged a week after Food Standards Scotland (FSS) research revealed a majority of Scots (68%) are in favour of mandatory calorie labelling on takeaway menus.

FSS chairman Ross Finnie said 98% of people in Scotland eat out, and “around 25% of all our calories now comes from the food we eat out of home”.

The research also suggested strong support for reducing excessive calorie contents by changing recipes (79%), cutting portion sizes (73%) and ensuring single-serve pack sizes are available (70%).

Ajmal Mushtaq, who was named Scotland’s chef of the year at the Scottish Curry Awards 2017/18 and owner of Mushtaqs in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, appealed for support following the new spending figures.

He said: “I left my job as a management consultant to head back to Scotland to pursue my passion of being a chef and running my own business.

“Within five years of opening our doors, we employed 60 people. But since 2014, growth has plateaued because we’re unable to recruit chefs from the local workforce.

“We need better support from the Government to allow businesses to grow.”