Food minister Lord Bach praised British exporters exhibiting at this year's Anuga trade show in Germany - and said the government would do all it can to dismantle restrictions on British beef exports as quickly as possible.

The minister said: "I am delighted to see so many British companies here at Anuga in so many fields and sectors. The standard is very high and exhibitors seem to be very optimistic and confident."

He said the government was keen to see exports of British food continue growing in coming years, particularly to the EU, which is where the bulk of exports head. "I believe we have the potential to increase exports further," said Lord Bach, pointing to the new funding that was awarded to Food from Britain last week as proof of its commitment to exports.

A key part of that strategy to grow exports will be the ending of the date based export scheme for beef, introduced in the aftermath of the BSE crisis, which halted all exports in 1996. The date based export scheme does allow British beef to be exported, but the strict nature of the rules has ensured that only a limited amount is being shipped overseas.

The European Commission is expected to lift those rules early next year, and Lord Bach said this would be a crucial step towards the normalisation of the beef market across the EU.

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