Britain's love of the humble banger extends beyond our island's shores. Ex-pats and holiday-makers across the Mediterranean are hungry for traditional British sausages, and several UK sausage manufacturers have taken advantage of the export opportunities created by Brits abroad.
According to Food from Britain (FFB), the market development consultancy commissioned by the government to increase exports of UK food and drink, Spain is the now a key market for British bangers, second only to Ireland.
Figures show that Spain imported sausages to the value of £2.36m in 2007, a 47.8% increase since 2005. Portugal and Malta also saw strong growth, up 72% and 37.7% respectively. "There are more than 800,000 British ex-pats in Spain, hungry for the home comforts of familiar brands or traditional products," says FFB. "The market offers excellent opportunities to smaller British companies to grow business outside of the crowded British marketplace."
Devon company Westaways Sausages is one such example. The business was successfully supplying supermarkets in the south west, but struggling to make the transition from regional to national supplier to the multiples. After realising that there was demand for British sausages in southern Spain, the company began selling its sausages to outlets in British ex-pat areas and has since extended sales across Spain, Portugal and the south of France.
"Exporting has enabled us to balance our production: if the sun doesn't shine in the UK and orders are down, we can freeze down any over-runs and export them," says managing director Charles Baughan.
The primarily summer sales of the Costas are now balanced by winter sales in French ski resorts, as hungry skiers seek hearty fare to punctuate their days on the slopes. "Getting the winter sales from the ski resorts is another boost for production that wouldn't have been possible if we'd focused solely on the UK," Baughan adds.
Sausage manufacturers interested in exporting abroad should consider attending FFB Spain's annual Iberia Roadshow, which is expected to attract buyers from across Spain and Portugal. The event is being held at the Hotel Hesperia in Alicante from 26-27 November 2008 and details can be found at www.foodfrombritain.com.