TWO Scottish food and drink companies have moved closer to selling their wares in Germany after being selected to take part in a European Union-funded export programme.

Galloway Lodge Preserves and Islay Ales have joined the German cluster of Access 6, a scheme set up to help producers from the west of Scotland and the border regions of Ireland and Northern Ireland move into the export market.

Led by Scotland Food & Drink, Northern Ireland Food & Drink and Irish Exporters Association, it aims to boost the exports generated by 90 companies by £19 million over the next three years.

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There are also hopes it will lead to 400 new jobs across the businesses taking part.

The two Scottish firms have been chosen for the German cluster because their products are deemed suitable for the country's burgeoning food retail and foodservice markets.

They will be assisted by Green Seed Germany, an international food marketing consultancy which will act as the official mentor to firms in the German cluster.

Over the next 18 months the team at Green Seed will work with Islay Ales and Galloway Lodge Preserves to ready them to launch into a market estimated to be worth £236 billion in sales.

Amanda Brown, senior industry director at Scotland Food & Drink, said: "This marks the start of an exciting new phase for Access 6.

"The Green Seed team's expertise and know-how will ensure each of the companies is equipped with the knowledge, tools and confidence to capitalise on this diverse and expanding market.

"As Europe's largest, with 82m consumers and growth of 3% in 2012 alone, the opportunities for exporting are exceptional."

Nicole Gunther, senior consultant of Green Seed Germany, said the campaign is well timed as the market continues to open up to exporters. Sales of fine food and drink are on the up as the market polarises between the premium and value segments, she said.

In addition to the German cluster, companies taking part in Access 6 will aim to develop exports in France, Scandinavia, the Benelux countries and North America, as well as in England.