What’s behind the sudden demise of fish paste?
Is it all just a cunning marketing ruse?
Amid anxiety about state thieving, vandalism, arson, a dithering president and a revolting cabinet minister, the sandwich spread shock came as a welcome respite in the news cycle. No wonder passions were aroused by the announcement that fish paste would soon follow the Nestlé Chocolate Log and Simba All Gold Tomato Sauce chips as a relic of the past.
The decision by Pioneer Foods (in its new guise as PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa) to no longer provide Peck’s or Redro was like a punch in the breadbasket. We would now have to settle for Marmite (if we can find it) or watered-down jams containing more pumpkin than fruit. Lindiwe Sisulu’s perfidy is someone else’s problem, Cyril Ramaphosa’s indecision might be final, fires at parliament could be the work of poltergeists; just don’t touch us on our fish paste. But they did.
With no concern for our palates, our breakfast hunger or the school sarmie, the company described its decision in cruelly corporate jargon as being part of "our ongoing portfolio review".
A spokesperson said sales had declined and appetites had shifted. It was about as convincing as burnt toast.
Gus Silber, for one, smelt a rat. A day after the announcement, he tweeted: "There is something very fishy about this whole fish paste saga. 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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