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As the drive to sell Scotland as a 'Land of Food & Drink' gathers momentum, our beef and seafood industries have joined forces for the first time to host an inward mission of top French chefs aimed at boosting exports.

Three chefs from Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, a key importer, plus a top food journalist will arrive in Aberdeen next week for a series of visits taking in specialist beef farms and processing companies in the north east of Scotland. The group will also enjoy a seafood culinary experience using locally landed seafood.

The group then moves on to Buckie to visit seafood businesses specialising in scampi and langoustines, and a butcher making his own black pudding and haggis.

'Uel Morton, Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish red meat industry's promotion and development body, said: "With the renewed focus of Scotland as a land of food and drink it makes sense for us to pool our resources and showcase both our superb beef and seafood for the French food service market.

"We've joined forces to pull together an excellent itinerary and regular tastings of some of the finest beef and seafood that Scotland has to offer will be a major part of the experience. Combined with our other export activities, this can help Scottish red meat businesses who are rebuilding trade to the continent.

" Anne Moseley, Business Development Manager for Seafood Scotland, said: "This visit is an exciting opportunity for Scottish seafood suppliers to demonstrate the quality and variety of seafood landed and processed locally, and we hope it will lead to new business opportunities. France is an important market for several species including Scottish langoustines, scallops, crab and lobster and we are pleased that the chefs are interested in finding out more about the source of supply."

The two organisations will collaborate again in January when they will be exhibiting at SIRHA in Lyon, an international hotel and food trade exhibition, and the home of the gourmet chefs.

Paul McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: "The co-hosting of this joint inward mission is a great example of collaboration between Quality Meat Scotland and Seafood Scotland and demonstrates how different parts of our industry can work together to help develop new business opportunities within our key international markets.

"The trip will initially help raise the awareness of the our fantastic red meat and seafood sectors but it will also help build our reputation of making Scotland internationally known as a 'Land of Food & Drink'."

The visit is timed for the 15th to the 17th September 2008.

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