Argentine beef producers entered the lion's den this week when they exhibited at Britain's Royal Show.

Despite hostility to South American beef imports among British farmers, Argentine promoters were spreading the word about their success on the

UK market with a plush

100 sq m stall at the event.

Figures from the Argentine Beef Promotion Institute (IPCVA) show UK volume sales in the first quarter of the year were up 4.1% compared with 2006. Meanwhile, exports of all food from Argentina have risen 30%.

A spokesman for IPCVA said he was delighted to be returning to the Royal Show after a 25-year absence. "We are here to complement the British offer, not to compete with it," he claimed.

But farming groups were less magnanimous about the PR stunt. "We'd prefer retailers to talk to us first, before they turn to Argentinian or Brazilian beef," said NFU livestock adviser Alastair Binns.