Bye-bye to SA’s fish paste favourites!

Peck’s Anchovette – and local brand Redro – are disappearing from South African shelves, and won’t be restocked anytime soon. What! Why?

The reason lies with Pioneer Foods, the local distributor of Peck’s and manufacturer of the South African equivalent Redro, that has made a decision to discontinue the brands.

According to a Pioneer spokesperson, the company chose to stop making the fish paste products towards the end of last year as part an “ongoing portfolio review”.

“We communicated this to our customers, stopped production and discontinued the sale of related items in December 2021,” the spokesperson told Business Insider South Africa.

Although it’s still early days, the social media kickback has lacked the vigour of other product cancellations like those for Lay’s Salt and Vinegar and Nestle’s Chocolate Log, perhaps hinting to the limited popularity of the product.

However, the often-divisive anchovy-based spreads have had something of a cult following for several decades in this country. 

Peck’s Anchovette, originally from the UK, dates back to 1891. It only arrived in South Africa in the 1960s, and until then, South Africans settled for Redro, a local fish spread developed from a local family recipe in the 1930s.

Redro was a leading product in the local savoury spread market for more than 30 years, aided by one of South Africa’s iconic early television commercials. In it, a young boy called Rudy speaks to a man off-camera, seemingly a reporter of some kind, about why he calls everything – including his dog and mother – Redro, because “it’s everything you love”.

When the foreign Peck’s gained traction in South Africa, Redro was downgraded to a “value for money” companion to the more premium brand, and Rudy and his dog faded into obscurity.

Given that Peck’s still has something of an international presence (primarily limited to Australia) another local distribution channel may reopen at some stage. But it’s likely the end of the line for the 90-year-old local product Redro.

Given Pioneer stopped producing the fish pastes in December last year, shelves have already emptied. And Pioneer says when the current stocks are depleted, there will be no more fish paste arriving from their factories.

“Products will therefore remain available for purchase by consumers as long as the retailers have stock on hand. We are in the process of finalising the sale of the related assets/brands to a 3rd party,” the spokesperson confirmed.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay already appear to have no online stock left, but it seems that Shoprite and Checkers have some jars lingering around in obscure stores. The retailer’s websites say stores in the Western Cape are already dry but suggest trying De Aar, Upington and Colesberg as the nearest alternatives.

Durban’s situation is equally dire, with suggestions pointing shoppers from KZN to take a not insignificant trip to Bethlehem, Ermelo, or Secunda. 

Johannesburg is faring better, for now – there’s a sporadic supply of both Redro and Pecks at stores throughout the city. Your best bet for picking up one of these jars is to browse the Shoprite and Checkers websites and adjusting your local store in the settings.