Key international markets are being targeted in a multimillion-pound drive to expand Scotland's food and drink sales.

A team of "global experts" will be sent to seven main markets, covering North America, France, Japan, Germany, the Middle East, Hong Kong and south-east Asia.

Richard Lochhead, the cabinet secretary responsible for food and drink, said: "The sector has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. In fact, if the current rate of growth continues then we will have an export rate similar to that of the North Sea oil and gas industry. That is remarkable.

"But we can do so much more. The quality and provenance of our food and drink is second to none and is a key selling point. We know there's a massive global appetite for our premium, iconic products and now is the time to make the most of that and build the Scottish brand and reputation."

The £4.5 million food and drink export plan was developed by the industry and government. It will look at 15 markets in total, hoping to capitalise on a sector worth £5.4 billion in export sales in 2012.

The total value of overseas food and drink exports increased by 52% between 2007 and 2012, with exports of Scotch whisky growing by 87% in the decade to 2012 to £4.3 billion.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said the scheme will help the rest of the sector follow the success of whisky.

"It will create a level of support for overseas trade that the food and drink industry in Scotland hasn't seen before and I'm confident by 2017 we will have doubled our export trade over a decade," he said.

The industry wants to meet export targets of £7.1 billion and overall turnover of £16.5 billion by that time.

The plan was announced at oatcake producer Nairn's in Edinburgh.

Chairman Mark Laing said: "We currently export to 30 countries around the world and have experienced the benefits from this, but we know there are much more potential opportunities out there.

"It's great to see Scotland's food and drink sector coming together as one to lay out a plan for the industry as a whole - a plan which we fully endorse. I'm hopeful that this will see Scotland's food and drink being exported and enjoyed far beyond our own shores."