IT’S NOT just our politicians who are ‘twitching away the good drapery’. Global multinational food companies appear to be buying up local brands, only to announce their retirement and cancellation of legacy products, — some with generations of family support — and all in favour of their own particular lines of items.
A bewildering array of local products have bitten the dust in this way. A form of radical rationalisation and globalisation, in which market share is driven by what could be termed, a logical extension of cancel culture, the strategic sabotage of any opposition?
This years’ announcement of the demise of Redro and Anchovette was a real shocker, and has lead to many reactions on social media.
The shortage of well-known chocolate brands, treats from one’s childhood may not have aroused the same indignation from adults, but a total lack of support for our breakfast choices as a nation — a shortage of Marmite, the end of Rice Krispies (as anything to do with rice), surely heralds a move towards a future in which well-known brands such as Liqui Fruit (owned by Pioneer Foods) may become corn-syrup beverages, the fake fruit juices that are a world-wide, rationalisation phenomenon.
The manner in which large companies are gobbling up smaller companies is often attributed to simply meeting the needs of profit and capital, and, yes nothing lasts forever. But this announcement looks a lot like a well-known strategy of cheque-book removal of one’s opposition by Pepsico and Pioneer Foods with the result that we may end up with a food market in which nothing is truly South African, nor 100% homespun, and our diet simply an artificial, saccharine reflection of board-room decisions taken overseas by those unhappy with margin.
I know there is no real economic reason why the food bigwigs should preserve Chappie’s bubble gum (a dentists nightmare), or fight for Jungle Oats and Black Cat peanut butter (organic, if somewhat expensive), but the question arises, if a legacy brand disappears are we any better off? Is it really all about the bottom line?
As an Anchovette fan (who can afford caviar these days?) I don’t have any qualms with seeing its down-market substitute Redro disappear, but witnessing both classic items go the way of the Dodo, I can’t help thinking that we are living in the age of Solyant Green? A product made famous by science fiction only to appear as an actual ‘meal replacement product’ in 2013.
Does Pepsico/Pioneer Foods really expect us all to eat Pronutro exclusively for breakfast, surely a forerunner in science nutrition? As a wholesome wheatbix fan, do they really understand the local market? Heck, why not retire KWV Brandy for not being, well, Vodka? (Anyone have any history on our use of Cane Spirit as a substitute during WW2 rationing?)
What do South African’s eat for breakfast these days? What are your kids taking to school in their packed lunches? Did everyone just stop eating breakfast during lockdown?
Please let us know.
PS: If you miss eating real popped rice for breakfast, I highly recommend a substitute popped rice product from Happy Valley.