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DEFRA minister takes fake whisky fight to Moscow

By Mike Stones , 16-Sep-2013
Last updated the 18-Sep-2013 at 12:08 GMT

Environment secretary Owen Paterson is taking the fight against fake whisky to Moscow this week in a bid to to protect Scotch whisky from counterfeits.

Paterson’s mission will be to urge the Russian authorities to step up protection of Scotch whisky in the country. He also intended to thank them for their previous efforts to tackle the problem.

Scotch whisky exports were “a tremendous success story”, worth £4.3bn in about 200 countries worldwide, said Paterson.

“It’s a premium product with a great reputation, which is why it’s important to come down hard on fakes,” he said.

“I am whole-heartedly behind the Scotch Whisky Association’s ongoing work to make sure that anything sold as ‘Scotch whisky’ is made in Scotland. In Moscow, I’m going to speak to Russian authorities about ensuring that people buying Scotch whisky in Russia get the real thing, as I did with the authorities in China last November.”

‘The real thing’

Scotch whisky is protected from fake products in the EU and some other countries because it is registered with a geographical indication. That means it is illegal to market a product called Scotch whisky that has not been made in Scotland.

Watch out for our exclusive video interview with Paterson later this week.

Meanwhile, last week the Scottish government announced Scotland’s food and drink sector had achieved a record turnover of more than £13bn in 2011.

The sector was due to hit reach £12.5bn by 2017, according to targets set in 2009.

Industry body Scotland Food & Drink has now raised the turnover target to £16.5bn by 2017 – including exports of £7.1bn.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said Scotland’s food and drink industry was a “fantastic success story”.

He added: “I have always believed that our food and drink sector is the best in the world, thanks to our fantastic natural larder, iconic products, strong global brands, excellent provenance credentials and industry innovation.”

‘The strength of Scottish food and drink’

“Today’s figures – and last week’s Bank of Scotland prediction of thousands of new jobs being created in the sector – demonstrate the strength of Scottish food and drink as an economic driver for Scotland. We have worked extremely hard to grow the sector, connect with existing and emerging markets, and grow interest in our fantastic natural larder far and wide.”

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said after a period of flat growth up to 2007, the industry had worked in partnership with government to boost sales.

Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International, welcomed the revised targets.

“Food and drink is Scotland’s top export industry, and I am delighted to see it forging ahead with even more ambitious targets,” said MacColl.

“Iconic products such as whisky, salmon, beef and shortbread, our strong global brands, and our excellent provenance credentials, will ensure that Scottish produce continues to command a strong premium position in UK and international markets,” she added.

The next step would be to target new export markets, said MacColl.

Watch our exclusive video in which Paterson argues that Britain's food and drink manufacturers are better served with DEFRA as their sponsor government department rather than the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

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