Not enough people love Wedwo: two iconic fish paste brands discontinued in SA

Peck’s Anchovette and Redro to go off shelves soon, but there may be some hope for fans

20 January 2022 - 09:30
By Wendy Knowler
Sales have declined in the past few years, says Pioneer Foods.
Image: Wendy Knowler Sales have declined in the past few years, says Pioneer Foods.

November 8 2021. That’s when SA’s only fish paste plant produced its last jars of Peck’s Anchovette and Redro before shutting its doors.

Pioneer Foods told its retailers of the impending demise of those products in advance of the Saldanha plant shutdown, so that they could order more than their usual stock of those little glass jars in December. But fish paste lovers were left in the dark and have only recently learnt the bad news, as stocks have run out on many supermarket shelves around the country.

The decision to discontinue fish paste production was part of what Pioneer terms “our ongoing portfolio review”.

“We’ve seen a gradual decline in sales over the past few years as appetites have shifted,” said Pioneer group communications manager Debbie Sharwood.

If you have a bottle, you have until November 2023 to eat it — that’s when the last jars will reach their best-before date.

So while fish paste consumers in this country may be fiercely devoted to the pinkish spread, they’ve been swimming against the tide for some time. There simply aren’t enough of them.

But perhaps all is not lost.

“Pioneer is in the process of finalising the sale of the related assets and brands to a third party,” Sharwood said.

If that falls through, those who managed, or still manage, to buy a stash of Anchovette or Redro will have until November 2023 to eat it — that’s when those last jars will reach their best-before date.

Many stores still have a healthy stock of Anchovette and Redro, but clearly it won’t last long as the word spreads that it won’t be replaced.

Peck’s Anchovette, an iconic UK product, has been sold in SA for more than 50 years, and the local version, Redro, for the past three decades.

Pioneer — now part of the PepsiCo group — caught a lot of flak when it discontinued another classic product — Salt & Vinegar Lay’s chips — two years ago, only to acknowledge that many consumers missed them and return them to the shelves a year later. But that was only for a limited time, because South Africans generally prefer spicy chip flavours.

“There is something very fishy about this whole fish paste saga,” well-known writer Gus Silber tweeted on Tuesday morning. “Strategically withdrawing products to create an artificial demand for their reintroduction is a classic marketing strategy, giving brands valuable free advertising when media happily swallow the bait. Resist!”

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