THEY’VE been around for decades and are common food brands that Africans will find in their pantry. For many in the diaspora, they are such an intense source of nostalgia that they can now be found in African food outlets and distributors across the globe, from America to Europe and Australia.
Here are those African food brands that leave us flabbergasted when we realise nobody else knows them:
For over 35 years, Deepa Industries’ Tropical Heat has been a staple in Kenyan pantries. The company is most famous for manufactured potato snacks which fall under the brand Tropical Heat that include crisps, chevda and peanuts. Having started as a small enterprise with just three employees in 1973, Deepa Industries has now become a household name in Kenya and products are also being exported to Uganda, Tanzania
Gala’s Sausage Roll
Made from a pure beef filling and rich pastry, Nigeria’s most popular sausage roll conjures up nostalgic feelings for many. Today it’s popularity has seen Gala Foods launch the product in Ghana and diversify into a chicken sausage roll product. What is particularly astounding is that for 40 years the Gala sausage roll was sold by hawkers on Nigeria’s streets and not in shops or stores.
Joubert & Monty Biltong
Biltong is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s favourite traditional snacks. J&M is the forerunner in the biltong industry and has a wide range of dried meat products that include beef biltong and snapsticks.
Rhodes tinned food
With a heritage that dates back to 1893, Rhodes Food Group is the oldest food producing company in South Africa. This Western Cape based food producer ranks amongst the top ten listed food companies in South Africa and offers tinned fruit and vegetable products as well as jams and spreads, which are a staple in many South African homes.
Local Rwandan businessman, Sina Gérard, perfected a recipe for a chilli sauce which is now locally and internationally famous. Known as “Akabanga”, the sauce hits you with a smoky and slightly bitter taste but is so hot and spicy that only a couple of drops are needed - conveniently it is already packed in eye-dropper bottles!
Farmer’s Choice was founded in 1980, with the main aim of selling fresh and processed pork products to all income groups in Kenya. To this day, the core business of Farmer’s Choice has been the production of fresh sausages, bacon, ham and pork. Beef has also become an important supplementary product. They are particularly known for their famous “Safari sausages” a staple for all camp fires grills.
Goldentree is the brand name of the Cocoa Processing Company Limited established in Ghana in 1981. The company processes some of Ghana’s cacao locally, rather than exporting it all to foreign chocolate manufacturers, and in doing so has created a variety of chocolate bars, spreads, powder and drinking chocolate.
NASCO Group is one of the largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in the West Africa region. Established in Nigeria over 50 years ago, NASCO manufactures a wide range of popular brands though one that stands out is their corn flakes. Now available in a range of flavours, these cornflakes have held their own in the competitive cornflake market and can be found in most shops.
Mama Fresh Injera
Mama Fresh Injera is based in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and is said to be one of the largest commercial manufacturers and exporters of fresh-baked injera - the deliciously sour Ethiopian flatbread. Having started in 2003, this family business quickly developed a loyal local following and today 50% of the company’s output is currently exported to markets in the US and Europe.
All Gold Tomato Sauce
All Gold products have been a part of the history of South Africa for more than 100 years. Their tomato sauce, launched in 1908, was originally manufactured by lowering muslin bags filled with herbs and spices into pots of ripe, freshly crushed tomatoes. can be found in South African households across the country and was one of the first products advertised on television. By 1985, homes around the country had consumed 250 million bottles of All Gold Tomato Sauce.
Established in 1990, Elsa Kolo is a brand known for it’s popular Kolo snack. Kolo is simply barley, chickpeas, wheat and whole grains tossed together and roasted over a clay griddle. It is regularly enjoyed by most Ethiopians between meals, while having traditional coffee or drinking Ethiopian traditional home brewed beer.
MIDAV sardines and mackerel have been canning fish since 1984 in the sea town of SAFI, an area considered to be one of the world’s richest fishing waters. Morocco is renowned for its sardines but the SAFI range are famous locally for their variety; plain or filleted sardines and mackerel in vegetable, olive oil, tomato, in brine, or with lemon.
Caravane is the brand name of a camel milk cheese produced in Mauritania by Tiviski, a company founded in 1987. The milk used to make the cheese is collected from the local animals of a thousand nomadic herdsmen and is found in shops and restaurants across Nouakchott - although exports to Senegal have also begun. This soft cheese is popularly referred to as a local Camembert and is used in cakes, dips, appetizers, savory meat and various vegetable preparations
Halayeb’s Romy Cheese
Romy or Roumy cheese is one of the best cheeses in Egypt and one of the most popular brands for it is Hayaleb. Established in 1910 in Damietta, in Egypt, Hayaleb belongs to the Egyptian Katilo family and is considered the leader of the Egyptian cheese market. Romy cheese is a hard, sharp tasting and salty cheese and belongs to the pecorino romano or mancheg family.
For years Monteros has been producing dried Kapenta – a small sardine-like fish and one of Zimbabwe and Zambia’s favourite foods. An important staple protein, dried kapenta is usually salted before drying and in Zimbabwe they are often fried with tomatoes and onions and eaten as part of a meal.