Rémi Fourrier, head of the UK's Meat & Livestock commission (MLC) in France, said there was a resistance to English beef among the French.

But the "chauvinism and nationalism" that drives French consumers is gradually decreasing, he said, and the introduction of more prime beef into the market will only help to improve its image.

Fourrier said the strategy for exporting is now focussed on supplying prime English beef to the top French restaurants. "There is definitely a market for English beef," he said, but revealed there are still problems in trying to secure a reliable supply of quality meat for export.

Since the export market reopened in May, an English prime beef exporter who can meet the expectations of French chefs has yet to be found, said Fourrier, and the message "English beef is the best in the world" cannot be pushed hard in France until such a supplier is found.

However, he was keen to emphasise that just a few months has passed since the export ban has been lifted, and it is more important to find a supplier who is reliable than one who can start immediately.

"We've been waiting for 10 years for this. We cannot afford a mistake, not one. If we're saying we're the best product in the world, it takes time," said Fourrier.

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