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British wine for British embassies, says MP

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The Telegraph, 07/01/2015

By Steven Swinford

British embassies should "showcase the best of Britain" by serving English wine instead of French vintages, a Tory MP has said.

 
Tracey Crouch, a member of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee, said that embassies should do more to promote Britain.
 
She recounted a recent trip to Taiwan with other MPs where she was served French wine instead of British vintages at an embassy.
 
Speaking at a culture select committee hearing on tourism, she said: "Certainly myself and the chairman were in a foreign embassy last year and they were serving French wine. You wouldn't go to a French Embassy and expect them to be serving anything other than French wine.
 
"What kind of conversations are being had to ensure we are showcasing our produce rather than our country as a whole?"
 
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said that the British beer industry has spent years struggling to supply embassies without success.
 
She told the committee: "We really struggle to get British embassies to serve British beer. During the World Cup I had a very good discussion with the Foreign Office in Brazil, but we do need to do more.
 
"It's not a problem with us supplying it. We are perfectly able and we do export to a lot of these countries."
 
It comes amid the growing success of British produce. Exports of English and Welsh wine are set to break the £100 million barrier for the first time this year.
 
Record levels of beer are also being exported, with more than a billion pints sold abroad for the first time.
 
France has become so concerned by the success of Anglo-Saxon foodthat it has launched a diplomatic offensive to foil British efforts to "dethrone" it as a global gastronomic capital.
 
Liz Truss, the Environment Secretary, is today expected to say in a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference that the French are right to be worried.
 
She will say: "The French have even complained about a supposed Anglo-Saxon food conspiracy. They are absolutely right to be worried. I am confident we can take on all comers.
 
"We have the entrepreneurs and go-ahead farmers to do it, taking pride in our heritage to forge a future based on innovation, technology and the quality of our great British food."
 
The Foreign Office said it serves British wine and beer at its posts. A spokesman said: "The FCO promotes British products at functions and business events at more than 260 posts around the world. We do serve British beer and wine, including at our post in Paris, and will continue to do so where appropriate."
 
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