Retailer gives fish paste fans the best news ever: it’s back!

Retailer gives fish paste fans the best news ever: it’s back!
It's true: fish paste is back on Pick n Pay shelves. (Photo: Supplied)

There’s a smile on smotherer-in-chief Jeremy Maggs’ face this morning, and now there’ll be one on yours. Because… Fish. Paste. Is. Back.

It is confirmed. When we heard it only on Thursday night we thought, nah, that’s too good to be true. We even checked the calendar: no, it’s not April 1st. So, at cock’s crow on Friday morning, half the staff of Pick n Pay were the target of a barrage of emails from your TGIFood Editor. Was it true? Could it be? Is the dearth really over? Is fish paste back on the shelves?

And the answer was an emphatic yes. What’s more, said a senior group press officer. “It’s back for good!”

But wait, there’s even more: it’s not only Redro that’s back. Or only Peck’s Anchovette. It’s both of them. The brands are in 50-plus Pick n Pay stores throughout the Western Cape as of now, and the retailer promises that they will be in stores nationwide “within the next two weeks”.

Here’s what happened, in Pick n Pay’s own words…

“Pick n Pay has again triumphed for their customers, this time bringing two iconic fish paste brands, Redro and Peck’s Anchovette, back to store shelves – reigniting nostalgia for South Africans.

“The retailer brought the popular Hellmann’s Mayonnaise back to their shelves in June, after a countrywide uproar by distraught shoppers when the American brand was delisted by its local supplier.

“Now, Pick n Pay has worked closely with Cape Gulf Brands and Premier Fishing & Brands to relaunch the popular fish paste products back on the shelf for local customers after they were discontinued nearly two years ago. The products will be exclusive to Pick n Pay stores.”

A little history about the two brands:

Peck’s Anchovette is the older of the two by far, having originated in the UK in late Victorian times when, in 1891, it first found its way into the market. It only arrived in South Africa in the 1960s and was a favourite with hundreds of thousands, until it suddenly disappeared from the shelves.

By the time Peck’s arrived on the scene in South Africa, fish paste fans had already been long familiar with their own brand, Redro, which had first appeared in the 1930s.

Fish paste world fell apart

Then, in December 2021, the fish paste world fell apart. In January 2022, South African fish paste fans woke up to the ghastly news, and word spread fast: it had been confirmed that both brands had been discontinued, ostensibly for lack of interest.

This was news to fish paste fans, who scratched their heads and thought, huh? But I have some almost every day…?

At TGIFood, we headlined our story The War on Spreads, such was the severity of the calamity.

Head scratcher-in-chief was television presenter and fish paste devotee Jeremy Maggs, who wrote in Daily Maverick: “Mine was a childhood smothered in fish paste. And now the memory has been harpooned as a major food conglomerate — with a click of a mouse on a profit-hungry spreadsheet — has decided to discontinue both Peck’s and Redro anchovy spread.

“I feel like a panicky sardine caught in a tight net off the South Coast. Like Nemo staring down Bruce, the vegetarian shark.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: My world is shattered: a paen for the demise of my beloved anchovy toast

We had to hear from the smotherer-in-chief himself. Maggs, on hearing the news this morning, managed to calm himself down sufficiently to reply:

“I’m overwhelmed with joy and excitement now that this condiment crisis is over. In coming days I am planning a private ceremonial smearing party (toast, not body) and am salivating with sensory expectation of hot melted butter intermingled with fish paste running down my chin. It will not be a pretty sight, but I don’t give a fig.”

In the meantime, many South Africans, ever an inventive and resilient bunch, learnt to make their own versions of the spread, including our own fish paste boffin, Georgia East, whose recipe you’ll find in this article.

If you really still need to make your own… DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Thank you so much Pick and Pay – gosh what a fantastic piece of news … nothing beats a thick slice of buttered toast smothered in fishpaste

  • Wynand Uys says:

    I tried making ersatz fish paste, following various recipes and the results have been disappointing.
    I’ll be hovering at the spreads shelf.

  • Gavin Brown says:

    After the withdrawal- Woolies came up with a re-placement (in a toothpaste tube – very practical – less white fungus !) True addicts never had to blink !!

  • Skerminkel the Third says:

    “The retailer brought the popular Hellmann’s Mayonnaise back to their shelves in June, after a countrywide uproar by distraught shoppers when the American brand was delisted by its local supplier.”
    Uproar? Really? Sounds like a lot of marketing garble.

  • Jane Foster says:

    I’m delighted that Fish Paste is back. Thank you for this good news. I would like to know why there has been no marmalade in neither Pick and Pay nor Checkers for months now. No All Gold Marmalade, neither the sweetened nor the Seville Orange variety. Did Rhodes ever offer us marmalade? But no one seems to be able to explain why it is not available and we are just coming out of the citrus season so it can’t be a shortage of fruit. Please, Mr Jackman, use your sleuthing prowess to find the answer for us.

  • Karin Bloem says:

    Faaaantastic news! Thank you, Pick n Pay for fighting the good fishpaste fight.

  • Steven Lewis says:

    This year has been so tough in SA, this little tidbit of good news is so welcome! Thank you Pick n Pay, Cape Gulf Brands and Premier Fishing. We are most grateful!

  • Yay for Pick n Pay to bring back fish paste. My own did not taste as good.

  • Bert Kir says:

    Wow – this is great news ! I can now take my 24 hoarded bottles out of my safe and put my wife’s jewellery back in…

    Priorities rule OK y’know… 🤣🤣🤣

  • Fred S says:

    Great…now what about bringing back tinned pickled fish, tinned curried fish and tinned smoor snoek

  • Jo Redeker says:

    Wedwo! Yeah! Do I really have to spell it out to make up 100 symbols? Going shopping ASAP.

  • Ian McGill says:

    Talking about missing foods , has anybody noticed the following. All Gold has discontinued Blackberry and melon& ginger jam plus the sweet and Seville versions of marmalade?

  • Henry Henry says:

    Remember the Wedwo kid? Calling his dog and his bicycle Wedwo? Because everything he like he calls Wedwo.

  • William Dryden says:

    I see you can only get the paste’s from Pick & Pay and no where else, that’s called sowing up the market.

  • Barbara Schormann says:

    I looked at the 2 bottles of bread & butter pickles in my fridge this morning. I thought why did I buy them because I no longer have fish paste to have with them on toast. And then I read the news. Wooohoo 🥳

  • Jennifer D says:

    It still amazes me that the manufacturers found it necessary to discontinue the product – it is clearly well loved. If it wasn’t profitable, charge more? I don’t think fish paste appreciaters would have complained too much.

  • Andrew Wallace says:

    Yaaha…………it was a sad day when my stash of 12 jars of Pecks was finally gone. Pick n Pay, please get this heavenly spread to KZN chop-chop.

  • Gordon Knight says:

    Reading this again a few months later, did anyone ever find which stores got this elusive fish paste? I tried a few of the main PnP’s when in Cape Town, with no success. Friends also went to their various local stores, with the same result.
    Anyone know where they’re hiding the paste?

  • Odette van Wyk says:

    This was the best Christmas present by far! I have dreamed of my hot toast and butter spread thick with anchovy paste. I was absolutely distraught when this was lost to us but was elated when seeing it at the bakery at PnP recently, bought 8 bottles just in case.
    Thank you, Thank you, I feel whole again

  • Barry Messenger says:

    The return of Peck’s and Redro (I like both..) was one of the best stories of 2023.
    But in Johannesburg, according to my casual observations, it is not commonly stocked in PnP stores?
    A while back I secured a few bottles of Redro in PnP Hyde Park Corner (not quite convenient for me) but I am at reorder point now and I’m starting to get edgy as I haven’t come across them in other PnP stores since then.
    Is there presently a stock shortage I wonder?

  • Annie Conway says:

    Life without fishpaste was long and hard 😓

  • Les Keith says:

    Have looked in several P&P stores around Cape Town (Northern and Southern suburbs) and have yet to find a single bottle. Got some from “Frozen for you” (not the original) that’s not bad.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Jeremy Maggs said it all: “…with a click of a mouse on a profit-hungry spreadsheet.” Nestle also recently embarrassed themselves by bringing back Nesquik, but there are hundreds more products and services that have disappeared because they simply weren’t making a big enough profit for the conglomerates. If I had the formula I could probably have made fishpaste in my kitchen and distributed it online very profitably.

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