The UK’s agri-food and drink attachés were welcomed to 10 Downing Street on Monday 20th November, marking the start of a week meeting ministers and the nation’s food producers.

The 11 attachés based in British embassies and consulates around the world – in Canada, Mexico, USA, Brazil, Kenya, The Gulf, India, Japan, China, Thailand and Vietnam – work to remove trade barriers, identify emerging international markets and tap into growing demand worldwide for quality goods from UK farmers and producers.

According to Defra, the attachés have supported the Government in resolving 42 agri-food barriers worth an estimated £340 million per year in 2023 alone, with 141 new market access agreements delivered since 2020. Their recent successes include securing market access for poultry to Tunisia, sheep embryos to the USA, pork to Chile, trout ova to China and pet food to South Korea.

They will tour the UK to meet with a range of people, from producers of seafood in Scotland to visiting egg farms and meat processors in Shropshire. Defra said that the attachés will gain first-hand experience of food production and “deepen their understanding” of the farmers and producers whose interests they represent overseas.

Secretary of State for Food and Farming Steve Barclay 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 meet with Food and Farming Minister Mark Spencer and attend an industry brunch hosted by NFU president Minette Batters, in addition to further meetings with Seafood Scotland, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the Food and Drink Export Council. 

The week provides an opportunity for the attachés to build their relationships with these key stakeholders and share learnings and insights with each other.

Expanding global reach

At the Prime Minister’s Farm to Fork Summit in May, it was announced that five additional attachés would be recruited to expand the network further – attachés covering the regions of Australia and New Zealand; North Europe; South Europe; South Korea and an additional attaché in Africa are expected to be in post by May 2024.

Food and Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “I look forward to meeting with our agri-food attachés in Westminster this week and thanking them for the brilliant work they do on behalf of our farmers and food producers.

“The best of British food and drink is now being enjoyed around the world, from Canada to Vietnam – in part thanks to their skilled negotiating and dedication to seeking out new export opportunities.”

NFU President Minette Batters said: “Agri-food attachés play a vital role in delivering our shared ambition of boosting high-quality, climate-friendly British exports abroad which is why we campaigned to grow their number. I’m delighted this network has increased in recent months and I hope it will continue given the incredibly important work they do.

“I look forward to working directly with the attachés this week to share the passion and knowledge within our sector, and ultimately help give them the tools to be the best ambassadors possible for great British produce overseas.”