Agri-food attachés – what are they and what do they do?

25 January 2023

A handshake in front of some dairy cows

Following sustained NFU campaigning, Defra has recruited eight new agri-food attachés to help boost the UK’s agri-food exports, bringing the total number of dedicated UK agri-food attachés to 11. But what is an agri-food attaché? And what do they do?

The eight newly-appointed agri-food attachés will be the UK’s eyes, ears and voice in overseas embassies, working to break down barriers to trade and develop networks in target markets.

The new attaches – covering Vietnam, Thailand, Africa, USA, Canada, Mexico, India and Brazil – will join the three already in post, covering China, Japan and the Gulf states, taking the total number of dedicated UK agri-food attaches to 11.

What is an agri-food attaché?

The role of an agri-food attaché is to broaden market access, break down barriers and drive export growth in priority export markets through in-country engagement. As well as this, they also:

  • Develop networks to share approaches to challenges, implementation of new regulatory measures and identify best practice.
  • Support UK businesses to establish and grow in market.
  • Support engagement and visits from ministers and senior officials.
  • Mitigate risks to current trade (for example, following public or animal health incidents or ensuring compliance with new import requirements).
  • Monitor and feed back market intelligence, demand trends and future regulatory changes.
  • Provide a key delivery mechanism for Defra’s agri-food and international strategy objectives.
  • Identify opportunities in the market to showcase UK food and drink.

Who do they work with?

NFU President Minette Batters 2020 Portrait

“We have an ambition to increase our high-quality, climate-friendly British food exports by 30% by 2030. The new attachés will be beneficial in growing these markets and ensuring that consumers across the world can enjoy British food.”

NFU President Minette Batters

The agri-food attachés will have a key role in building and maintaining the right operating environment for UK exporter interests in overseas markets.

They will work closely with Department for International Trade officials based overseas, including reporting into the government’s Regional Trade Commissioners.

They will also have the support of Defra’s Export Team, based in the UK, and will be working closely with other UK-based market access and policy teams.

NFU support for the agri-food attachés

The NFU has long called for government investment to expand the number of dedicated agri-food representatives overseas and we welcomed the appointment of the expanded network.

We are keen to ensure we arm them with the knowledge and contacts to be able to thrive in their role and promote agri-food exports.

We will work closely with government and the attachés to ensure they have the right support and material to truly understand and promote British agri-food products.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “We have campaigned for a number of years to increase the number of agri-food attachés representing the interests of British farmers and growers internationally and we are delighted that they are now in post.

“We have an ambition to increase our high-quality, climate-friendly British food exports by 30% by 2030. The new attachés will be beneficial in growing these markets and ensuring that consumers across the world can enjoy British food.”

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