We have recently noticed a healthy love affair for uniquely South African products in the UK. Not only are these products showing healthy sales in regular British outlets, they are even becoming part of the mainstream culture.
Initially most people thought a country with so many cider brands were merely going through a phase when Savanna started selling like – well, like dry cider – but now that you see it in Sainsbury’s, Morrsisons, Tescos or online through The Savanna you know it’s here to stay. Dry, but you can drink it, this Savanna Premium Cider was first launched in South Africa in 1996 by Distell Group Limited. Savanna Dry is produced from crushed apples grown in the Elgin Valley of the fertile Western Cape, and it’s a clear, refreshing and dry tasting cider. Produced in the apple cider plant in Paarl, with the overall production process taking roughly two weeks, the cider is run through a micro-filtration process where it is triple filtered and double chilled. It is available in three variations: Savanna Dry, Savanna Light and the recently added Savanna Dark, which we have not year seen in the UK.
Since its introduction, the brand has grown phenomenally and is now sold in over 40 countries, with growing sales in the UK and other markets, and is South Africa’s leading cider export and the third-largest cider brand in the world.
Who would have thought that that dried, cured meat made from various types of meat, ranging from beef and game and typically South African would have become so popular in the UK? It is part of South African identity with some tracing the origins of Biltong as far back as the Indigenous peoples of Southern Africa, such as the Khoikhoi, who preserved meat by slicing it into strips, curing it with salt, and hanging it up to dry.
The unique flavours are traced back to pioneering South African forefathers who sun dried meat during their trek across the African Subcontinent, who flavoured the meat using a dramatic blend of vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander and other spices. These were in abundance in the then Cape Colony, as the French Hugenots produced wine and vinegar from their grape crops and the colony was the halfway stop for seafarers plying the spice routes of the East. Various brine recipes and marinades were created and handed down for generations, to produce the vast range of flavours available today.
Ironically, Biltong produced in South Africa may not be imported into Britain, according to rules governing the importation of meat-based products from non-EU countries laid down by HM Customs and Excise and its successor HM Revenue and Customs, which has resulted in a booming trade for UK businesses who have started producing it. And don’t think for one second it is only South African shops selling Biltong in the UK – these days any butcher or entrepreneur with his salt – no pun intended – are producing biltong and most of them say they cannot make enough for the growing demand with the growing number of Polish & Brits also developing a healthy taste for it.
The likes of The Savanna have gone to the extent of building their own butchery to keep up with the biltong, droewors and boerewors demand. This also ensures that the meat is cured and produced by South African butchers to meet the high standards expected by customers looking for authenticity.
Another uniquely South African product, Rooibos Tea has its origins in the rugged Cederberg region of the Western Cape. In times gone by the people of the area discovered that the fine, needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant made a tasty, aromatic tea. The leaves and fine stems were chopped with axes and bruised with hammers before being left in heaps to ferment. Once fermented, the leaves and thin stems were spread out to dry in the hot African sun, ready for use as a thirst-quenching drink. Today, Rooibos is still processed in much the same way, but, of course, the methods are now mechanised and far more refined.
The tea was first marketed by Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant and pioneer in the area, as early as 1904, and by 1930, when an amateur botanist, Dr P le Fras Nortier, discovered the secret of germinating Rooibos seeds, the market for this unique ‘mountain tea’ quickly expanded.
Rooibos’ popularity the world over, and specifically in the UK, can be linked to the many health benefits of the tea. Among others it is completely pure and natural as it contains no additives, preservatives or colourants, is naturally caffeine free and contains antioxidants that fight free radicals (a by-product of normal cell function), which weaken the body’s natural defences and lead to ageing, the declining of the immune system and the onset of a wide variety of diseases.
Simba’s Ghost Pops are a firm favourite among millions of people in SA and are fast becoming a favourite of your average Brit as well! Produced by Simba, a popular potato chip manufacturer established by the Greyvensteyn family that has been producing its products in South Africa since 1956, Ghost Pops appeals to the adventurous side and willingness to embrace new things that are tasty and fun at the same time.
Craving ghost pops now? Go visit The Savanna and buy online now
Aloe Ferox is another traditionally South African product that is becoming more mainstream in the United Kingdom.
Aloe Ferox, or the Cape Aloe, has been used for everything from treating sunburn to beauty products and promoting healthy digestion. You’ve seen it listed as a ingredient in many of your personal care products. The earliest civilisations revered this extraordinary botanical for its astonishing properties. Its legendary uses have been passed down through time, enhanced by scientific innovation and centuries of experience.
In the wild, the inner leaf gel is protected by the fleshy outer rind that prevents moisture loss and protects it from the atmosphere. Once the leaf is cut, the process of oxidisation begins and if left unchecked, would rob the precious gel of many of its beneficial properties.
The ancient art of harvesting remains unchanged. The bottom few sets of leaves are cut at regular intervals, encouraging vigorous growth in the plant and ensuring its survival. It’s also labour-intensive, so provides a livelihood for unskilled, independent tappers.
All Aloe Ferox products are manufactured according to uncompromising specifications and submitted to stringent quality control at several stages during production. Alcare Aloe meets the strict requirements of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association of South Africa and is a member of the SA Cosmetic Export Council, with years of experience supplying clients in Europe, Asia and the USA.