Trade delegation boosts British exports despite Defra minister pulling out

A British trade delegation served British roast beef to French food importers in Paris last night in an effort to boost food and drink exports, despite the new Defra Minister pulling out of the dinner at the last minute.

Defra minister Owen Paterson had been due to attend the St George reception, which was organised by Eblex, after meeting the French Food Minister and visiting the food trade show Sial in Paris. However, Paterson cut short his visit to France after the government decided to postpone the controversial badger cull.

Paterson had also been due to host a food exports session on the online forum of business networking site LinkedIn, which will remain open for discussion and feedback for two weeks.

Since 2000, UK food exports to France have doubled from 1.1bn to 2.2bn. However, sales dropped significantly in the first half of 2012, according to the Food and Drink Federation. Total food and drink exports to France were down 7.1% compared to the same period in 2011, while exports of beef and lamb across the Channel fell 5.8% and 9.3%, respectively.