Many British expats move to Australia or New Zealand dreaming of the perfect laid back lifestyle, with family barbecues, beautiful beaches and palatial homes making it the perfect upgrade from Britain's crowded, rainy streets. While the sharing of language and many cultural similarities mean that expats don't get the culture shock they would get from moving to India or South Korea, it seems it's the difference in food on the supermarket shelves that British expats find hard to deal with.
There is no doubt that Marmite is the ultimate “love it or hate it” food. What's surprising is the lengths that those who “love it” will go to in order to get a jar, as a recent news story in New Zealand proves. British expat Rob Savage has been importing British Marmite to New Zealand for close to a year, selling the product to fellow emigrants. However, his latest instalment was stopped in customs under suspicion of a trademark infringement, put in place by the New Zealand company Sanitarium, who also have a product called Marmite. At the moment it is unclear whether the shipment, with an estimated worth of NZ$12,000 (£6,000), will be allowed into the country. Savage and his eager British expat customers feel so aggrieved by the situation that they have even set up a Facebook campaign Free The English Marmite to try and get their hands on the addictive spread.
Their allegiance to British Marmite is even more pronounced when you consider that New Zealand already has three different brands of “Marmite”. Along with Sanitarium's Marmite, you can also find Our Mate, a Marmite also made by Sanitarium but intended for the British population, as well as Britmite, which uses the same recipe as British Marmite but re-branded for the NZ market. Sanitarium's Marmite is also available in Australia where AussieMite and Vegemite are the preferred alternatives to British Marmite. It's even possible that Vegemite is becoming a star in its own right, with many of its fans believing it to be the superior spread. The fact that it's available in the UK, US and Asia indicates that it does have a worldwide following.
Marmite is not the only food stuff that British expats find hard to resist after moving abroad. From scanning expat discussion forums it's clear that pork pies, Branston pickle, Weetabix, mushy peas, quality sausages and British cheeses are all high on the list of things that are highly missed by expats. Generally these foods fit into one of two categories, either a convenience food that their new country just doesn't see the need for (i.e. nuts in pubs, ready-made sandwiches) or a particular brand that evokes either a connection with home or a particular flavour (i.e. Bird's custard, Walkers crisps, Colmans mustard), even though that product is available as a different brand.
As well as enterprising individuals like Rob Savage importing foods from Britain for friends and his own consumption, there are many specialist shops in both Australia and New Zealand that cater for homesick palates. Often these shops will charge something of a premium for the foods, reflecting the distance they've had to travel, as well as the obsessive demand that exists in the British expat population. You will also be able to find services online that send British food around the world, and cater for many countries where British expats are based. To find out lots more advice about where you can find your favourite foods abroad see our recent article Finding Your Favourite Foods After You've Moved Abroad.