The UK government could create more opportunities for agri food exports if it increased the number of staff working in key export markets, a committee of MPs has been told.

Speaking in Westminster on Tuesday, Robert Sheasby from the Agricultural Industries Confederation said much more could be done to remove trade barriers for UK agri food exporters.

“We are probably thin on the ground. There are a couple of people in Brussels representing the UK government in this area, whereas the Norwegians have a delegation of over 200,” he said.

There is currently a team of UK diplomats, known as attachés, who are based in different embassies across the world and specialise in developing new markets for agri food products.

“The fact that we have 25 agricultural attachés around the world is a step in the right direction, but we have got a long way to go until we are ready, and they fully understand the breadth of the agricultural economy and the opportunities that presents,” Sheasby said.

Katie Doherty from the International Meat Trade Association had a similar view and said the UK could learn from the likes of Denmark and Ireland when it comes to developing new markets.

“Now that the attachés are in place, we would like to see more engagement with industry, so they can be best equipped to be talking to markets about particular cuts of meat that we are exporting or want to export,” she said.

Doherty suggested a more joined up approach was also needed within the UK government, as talks to remove trade tariffs and get products certified for export are carried out by different departments.

“There is no point in negotiating an agreement where you have zero tariffs into a particular market, without first having veterinary market access,” she said.