Agri-food attachés have returned to the UK to mark the start of a week which will see them deepen their understanding of farmers' interests to help boost exports.
This week the attachés will tour the country, from meeting with producers of whisky and seafood in Scotland to visiting egg farms and meat processors in Shropshire.
The initiative aims to boost their first-hand experience of British food production while improving their understanding of the farmers whose interests they represent overseas.
The eleven attachés, based in British embassies and consulates around the world, cover Canada, Mexico, USA, Brazil, Kenya, the Gulf, India, Japan, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
The role of an attaché works to remove trade barriers, identify emerging international markets and tap into global demand for goods from UK farmers and growers.
In 2023 alone, they have helped resolve 42 agri-food barriers worth an estimated £340m per year, with 141 new market access agreements delivered since 2020.
Recent successes include securing market access for poultry to Tunisia, sheep embryos to the US, pork to Chile, trout ova to China and pet food to South Korea.
The new Defra Secretary, Steve Barclay welcomed the attachés during a meeting at Number 10 on Monday morning (20 November).
He said: “Backing British farmers is one of my priorities at Defra and our attachés do vital work to ensure they get the best possible deals to export their world-class produce.
“We are expanding the attaché network even further next year, so that our excellent food and drink can continue to reach all corners of the globe.”
While in the UK, the attachés will also meet with Food and Farming Minister Mark Spencer and attend an industry brunch hosted by NFU President Minette Batters.
They will also have further meetings with the Scotch Whisky Association, Seafood Scotland, AHDB and the Food and Drink Export Council.
NFU President Minette Batters said agri-food attachés played a vital role in delivering the industry's ambition of boosting exports abroad.
"[This] is why we campaigned to grow their number," she said, “I look forward to working directly with the attachés to share the passion and knowledge within our sector.”
It was recently announced that five additional attachés would be recruited to expand the network further, covering Australia and New Zealand; North Europe; South Europe; South Korea and an additional attaché in Africa.