Exports of food and drink to France double

British exports of food and drink to the French have doubled in value since the year 2000, from £1.1bn to £2.2bn, says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The figures were released as Defra’s new Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, led a trade delegation to Paris for a series of appointments including a roast beef party organised by Eblex, talks with French ministers, and a visit to the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL), which is billed as the world’s biggest food trade fair.

The boom in French demand for British products has included a quadrupling of cheese exports and a tripling of 
the sales of whisky and beer.

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English sparkling wine 
is also doing well – rivalling Champagne in top awards and increasingly served 
in leading Paris restaurants.

Mr Paterson said: “Whether it’s fromage or fizz, our top-quality produce is proving to be a match for world-renowned French cuisine.

“They’ve got a growing appetite for our food and drink, putting our industry in a great position to increase exports.

“Across the world demand for food is growing, and food and drink exports can be a significant source of British economic growth.”

He added: “This Government’s doing all it can to help businesses open up markets abroad.”

Food and farming is worth £89bn to the UK economy, said Defra, and employs 3.5 million people. Last year, UK food and drink exports increased overall by nine per cent to £18.2bn, marking the seventh consecutive year of record growth.

In January, Defra launched a Farming, Food and Drink Exports Action Plan and in May the department revealed that its efforts had helped secure an agreement to export £50m worth of pork to China.