FIVE food and drink producers based on the west coast of Scotland have joined a scheme targeting sales in Scandinavia in the latest stage of a European-funded export programme.

The companies are the latest Scottish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to take part in Access 6, a scheme which aims to help producers based in peripheral parts of the European Union move into the export arena.

Whisky shop A D Rattray, food producer Uncle Roy's, and three brewers - The Isle of Skye Brewing Company, Fyne Ales and Ayr Brewing Company - are looking to enter Scandinavia as Sweden, Denmark and Norway opens up to imported food and drink. Isle of Skye, run by Kenny Webster, has recently undertaken a major rebrand.

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The firms are joined in the Scandinavia cluster by 10 firms from coastal Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The retail and foodservice market in Scandinavia is said to be worth a combined £84 billion, with Scottish exports to Norway and Denmark were worth an estimated £1.5m in 2012.

Firms taking part in the Scandinavian cluster attended a launch event in the Irish embassy in Stockholm, and took part in a mini study tour during which they were introduced to a senior buyer from Axfood, a major retailer in Sweden.

Will Shaw, project manager for Access 6 at Scotland Food & Drink, said Scandinavia is being targeted due to the similarity between it and the UK and Ireland in cultural and retail trends, and because markets have already been established for their products in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. He said: "We know there is demand for this kind of market. It is not a brand new market that small SMEs are going to have to battle to enter."

No grants are offered to SMEs through the programme, which the EU funds to the tune of €2.2 million. Firms taking part are assigned a mentor, who offers advice on exporting and can "open doors" in the market, as well as organise study tours and workshops.

The Access 6 programme has helped establish SMEs in coastal parts of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland looking to export to London and the south-east, and to Germany and France. SMEs have also been lined up to take part in two final clusters, which will target exports to the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and the US.