MINCE PIE, MARMITE, HAGGIS, SCONES

Service targets Brits seeking taste of home

by William Hollingworth

Kyodo

Expatriates in Japan who feel jaded by noodles and rice and long for British food are increasingly turning to a new Web site.

The site — distantbrits.co.uk — supplies British products across the world, and Japan is its biggest market in Asia and is growing.

Sarah Daykin, the site’s founder, came up with the concept after her overseas relatives always complained there were certain foods they could never find.

The site stocks more than 4,500 products, ranging from food to cleaning materials, and since opening in 2003 has been sending out around 300 boxes of goods per month.

She said the British product most in demand in Japan is mince pie, a popular Christmas dish, and in second place are Jaffa Cakes (small biscuits with a round hard sponge base with orange jelly on top and covered in chocolate).

Daykin, 41, is no stranger to the demands of expats.

She grew up in Malaysia, where her father was a pilot. She recalled that her mother was always asking crews to bring over certain items she could not find in the local stores.

And her sister currently lives in Japan, where she says that the culture and language problems make it even harder for British shoppers to find the right products.

“It was a combination of my own experiences abroad and sending food parcels to family members at Christmas which made me come up with the idea for this site,” Daykin said.

The third most popular request from Japan is for flavored Walkers’ crisps, particularly the Worcester sauce and Marmite flavors. Marmite is a black spread made from yeast.

Daykin also receives many demands for haggis (a Scottish dish made from a sheep’s innards mixed with oatmeal) from British embassies around the world.