The news recently has been all doom and gloom. Immigration has become a pet subject for the media to heighten people’s fears, with Channel 4 even running a series about Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood Speech. The British public is constantly being told that immigration is a drain on resources; foreigners are taking jobs, heightening crime and other such horror stories. Therefore is it surprising that people are not looking on the benefits this influx brings to the UK?


With an aging population and the indigenous population often unwilling to work in certain areas the arrival of Polish and other migrant workers is of the utmost importance to the economy. Many industries would be really struggling if it weren’t for this new work force coming to the UK: building, factory work, fruit picking, nursing and domestic service industry to name just a few.  Shaheed Malik, Managing Director of Doolicraft a contract packing and sourcing business comments: “The Polish workers have proved essential to my business, without them during busy times of the year I would be struggling to fill the necessary vacancies. I am staggered by how hard these people work, they are pleased to be here, enthusiastic and nothing is too much trouble. They pay their taxes and help keep the wheels of industry turning, I am sure that many recruitment agencies would have empty books without the incoming East Europeans.”


It is easy to forget contributions such as these to British business, but it is also essential to remember that whilst these people settle here and work here they are also spending money in the British Economy.  East Europeans, thanks to hard work, are experiencing higher disposable income and it would appear that many large companies are beginning to react to this new section of the British population. Research demonstrates that this is a new young and predominantly single market with cash to spend, the Centre for Economics and Business Research calculates that the average migrant Polish worker is earning in excess of £20,000 per annum with at least £7,000 as disposable income, meaning a combined spending power of over £4 billion, which simply can’t be sneezed at, it represents the spending power of a large city such as Liverpool.


Polish and other East European immigrants are having a positive effect on the economy keeping the workforce younger and therefore easing the pensions burden and keeping interest rates lower, which should help to kerb the price of mortgages, but should also buoy the otherwise struggling, buy to let market. The trend for Eastern European workers coming into the UK is set to continue and with companies such as Sainsbury’s making it clear that it is all for keeping the doors open to EU immigrants in the interest of economic growth. This growth is unlikely to slow down especially with Romanians and Bulgarians added to the mix. Since January last year Polish workers in the UK have also been free from the double taxation policy that was in place, which further increases their disposable income in the UK.


These kind of figures simply can’t be ignored and with numbers continuing to come in and many estimate the number of people who have come in, to be well in excess of 2million people and with over 80% of them sticking to a familiar diet it is not surprising that the supermarkets have cottoned on to this lucrative new market. Debbie Clark from Morrison’s says: “We have a range of over 55 products including deli meats such Kebanos (dry pork sausage), Bozczek (cooked and smoked bacon), Krakus Red Cabbage, one of the staple ingredients of the Polish diet and Solid Naleczowska Plums in chocolate as well as Polish bloomer bread in all stores.”


Polish exiles abroad speak Polish and eat Polish as if the continuity of their culture depended on it’.   Lesley Chamberlain ‘The Food and Cooking of Eastern Europe’ commented. A number of Turkish stores are also catering for Polish needs with all manner of foods being available from flaki, pickles to bread. Supermarkets are also alerted to the enormous potential. Julia Tweedie from ASDA comments: “ASDA boasts an extensive range of Polish products and famous brands, we support the Polish press with advertising and have also hosted Polish events on store. Research has shown us that Polish shoppers want brands they recognise from home and we do our best to fulfil this requirement.”


The opportunities are out there for manufacturers and retailers alike to target this largely untapped market, through a plethora of bespoke media including satelittle TV, websites and also Polish newspapers. Companies that form a relationship with new communities at a grassroots level ordinarily find they remain loyal customers for years to come. However, it is essential to get the message and targeting right.

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