Polish vodka brands are set to challenge the dominance of their Russian rivals in the UK off-trade next year, according to producers, importers and retailers.
Marblehead, which imports and distributes Polish vodkas such as Luksusowa, Krolewska and Polska, said the influx of Polish immigrants into the UK had created not only a new market but also an extensive network of brand ambassadors helping to "fast-track the brands".
"With all the Polish vodkas we have launched in the UK we have found a willing network of brand ambassadors in the shape of the Polish community," said Paul Mason, sales and marketing manager at Marblehead. "We have always built our brands first in the on-trade and then moved into take-home. With many Polish workers in the bar industry, this is becoming a very efficient process, so much so that now most of the major multiples are approaching us and asking for products like Zubrowka (a vodka flavoured with bison grass, popular in Poland), which they are then having great success with."
Spar announced this week it has added a Polish vodka, Soplica, to its shelves for the first time in a bid to tap into the growing market. "There is no mistaking how Polish products are becoming commonplace in stores through the UK and Spar is no exception," said Gyles Walker, wines & spirits trading manager. "Vodka is a large part of Polish heritage and Soplica is one of Poland's oldest and most well-known vodka brands."
The industry is predicting further growth for the category will come from non-Polish consumers as the brands become more visible. "It is clear that as Polish communities become more integrated into the UK there will be a level of assimilation of Polish products into the mainstream," said Iain Grist, sales director of vodka producer and exporter CEDC. "This is particularly true of brands that have the authenticity, heritage and quality behind them."