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France threatens Anuga boycott over foie gras ban

French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire has threatened to boycott this year’s Anuga trade show after a decision to stop foie gras producers from exhibiting at the event.

The move has angered French producers and Le Maire has written to his German counterpart Ilse Aigner and said he may not attend the show’s opening ceremony in Cologne in October.

“Products that respect current EU legislation should all have access,” Le Maire said. Most retail foie gras sales occur towards the end of the year, making Anuga the last opportunity to secure business. In China, foie gras sales are soaring and French producer Delpeyrat has already set up a production unit in the country.

Foie gras was not re-entered in the catalogue listings for Anuga 2011 after animal welfare groups caused security issues at the last event in 2009.

“We had some problems in 2009 and we have been talking to French producers for years about excluding it from Anuga,” a spokesperson for the event told just-food. “We didn’t expect diplomatic reactions.”

France is the largest producer of foie gras and has responded the most vigorously to the ban, although the ruling applies equally to Belgian, Spanish, Bulgarian and Hungarian producers.

The German minister is not expected to overturn the show’s decision. The presence of foie gras had already been a contentious issue among exhibitors, the Anuga spokesperson added.

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