Britain’s food and drink producers are heading in the right direction when it comes to increasing exports but even more can to be done to maximise the opportunites offered by overseas markets

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice also stressed the sector formed a “critical” part of Britain’s economic recovery.

Addresing the Food & Drink Expo taking place at the NEC Mr Paice said: “The food and drink sector is an essential and critical part of Britain’s economic recovery.

“It is a vitally important industry generating 3.7 million jobs and £25 billion in added value.

The Minister added that the Government’s Farming, Food and Drink Export Action plan launched in January aimed to offer real help to producers, particularly SMEs, through UK Trade & Investment.

UK food and drink exports grew by 12 per cent in 2010 to £16.1billion and Mr Craice said there had been a further increaswe in 2011.

“Exports were up against last year which is a very good story but we can do better,” he added.