Polish nationals working in Britain in the past few years have picked up more than their wages – with many developing a taste for British brands of food and drink.
Poles and other eastern Europeans returning home have increasingly been ordering premium British products such as dark chocolate, tins of shortbread, specialist teas, and even bottles of honey-infused bitter. Sales of British chocolate in Poland, for example, increased 185 per cent in the first six months of the year. Biscuits and cakes were even more popular, up 338 per cent. By far the biggest rise was in breakfast cereals – up 968 per cent.
The increases have been attributed to expanding tastes and disposable income in Poland, which spent 53 per cent more on British goods. Food and drink exports to Russia meanwhile rose 20 per cent, with the Czech Republic up 45 per cent, and Hungary up 58 per cent – all led by sales of sweet food.
Overall growth in these markets helped lift demand for UK food exports by 15 per cent to £6bn for the first half, with the figure expected to smash the £13bn-a-year barrier for the first time, according to Food from Britain, the government-funded body tasked with increasing foreign appreciation of Britain's culinary flowering.
"We are experiencing phenomenal export growth to central and eastern Europe, albeit from a modest base," said Chris Brockman, head of research at Food from Britain. "Increasing disposable incomes means food is now being seen as an enjoyable indulgence, and consumers are willing to pay more for the privilege."