What saucery is this? Pick n Pay to the rescue as it brings Hellmann’s back to SA shelves

What saucery is this? Pick n Pay to the rescue as it brings Hellmann’s back to SA shelves
(Photo: Tony Jackman)

The popular American mayo will be competing with NOMU’s MAYU, which has already won hearts and mouths in the battle of condiments, and a variety of other well-established brands.

Blink if you missed it: Barely three months after Unilever pulled Hellmann’s mayonnaise from the South African market, citing low demand and inflationary import costs, Pick n Pay has stepped in to “save the day”, by announcing it’s putting Hellmann’s back on the shelves.

This week, the retailer – named Brand Finance Africa’s strongest African brand – said that when Hellmann’s was delisted by its local supplier earlier this year, “Pick n Pay assured customers it was already hard at work on plans to get the iconic mayonnaise brand back in stores as soon as possible”.

Now, customers can buy the popular mayonnaise in more than 100 Pick n Pay stores nationwide, in two new-format jars – 800g and 400g – priced at R110.99 and R69.99 respectively.

“When the local supplier delisted the product earlier this year, our customers were heartbroken. In keeping with our customer promise to deliver the products they want and need, we immediately started exploring other supply options around the world to get the product back on our shelves as quickly as possible,” said Calvin Watson, head of department: edible groceries.

Customers can also buy it on the Pick n Pay asap! app or Mr D – for delivery within an hour.

To say customers were heartbroken is an overstatement (just a guess), but did they even miss it that much? 

It’s not for a lack of competition in this space: most retailers sell their own no-name brands, alongside a broad range of mass-produced mayonnaises from Crosse & Blackwell’s “Tangy” (produced by Tiger Brands) to “Seriously Good” from another American multinational, Heinz. 

But Hellmann’s loss did hit customers hard – fans who were already smarting from the loss of Peck’s and Redro anchovettes, Miracle Whip, Chocolate Log and Simba Tomato Chips. 

NOMU ‘got this’ 

Days after Unilever announced it was pulling Hellmann’s from the South African market, local premium food producer NOMU posted a cheeky social media announcement, saying “Don’t worry, South Africa – we’ve got this…”, with a mock-up picture of their “MAYU”, followed by a disclaimer in a smaller font, “Just kidding. We’ll miss you, Hellmann’s”.

That joke backfired, when the following day a customer, who hadn’t read their fine print, or realised it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, scratched out an order for three cases of the fictional MAYU on NOMU’s website. 

Then, NOMU co-founder Paul Raphaely started fielding calls from distributors from as far afield as Botswana, requesting stock of MAYU. Inundated with queries, Raphaely suggested to his wife Tracy Foulkes that there might be something to this. Days later, they met product developers and launched a mayonnaise that was as good – if not better than – Hellmann’s.

This was NOMU’s first foray into saucery. The company is far better known for its hot chocolate, spices, baking kits, stock and its Sweetly sugar substitute – i.e. mostly dry, shelf-stable products.

Within four weeks, NOMU motored ahead, going from “tactical to practical” and released its own “crowdsauced” MAYU, with a soft launch of only 1,000 bottles prepared in the initial phase, sold via its own website, Yuppiechef and a few SPAR stores across the country. 

Initially, all proceeds from its run of 1,000 were donated to the Peninsula School Feeding Association. Now, they are in a “steady relationship” with the feeding scheme, donating a percentage of every jar of MAYU sold directly to the scheme’s children.

Rapidly scooped up, MAYU has been a phenomenal success story. Just last week, Raphaely posted on LinkedIn: “For the sake of documenting the next, wonderful step in SA’s 1st Crowdsauced Mayo, here is our very own, little ‘upstart/start-up’ MAYU, now ALSO available from PicknPay store nationwide!

“Never in a thousand, diesel-depleted, unduly dark years would I have guessed that this year would produce a FULL merchandised shelf of NOMU mayonnaise…

“Slightly bewildering, truthfully, but great thanks to PNP from all of us NOMU for being open to giving MAYU a chance!”

NOMU declined to comment on the relaunch of Hellmann’s although this was hardly an unexpected move, as Pick n Pay had assured customers in March that it planned to relaunch the American brand. DM


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