brands not south african
These brands are not originally from SA. Images by Tamorlan/Wikimedia Commons and Cape Town Daily Photo/

Home » What? These brands are NOT South African

What? These brands are NOT South African

Many of the well-known South African brands have been around for decades and form part of our heritage. But some of them originated elsewhere.

brands not south african
These brands are not originally from SA. Images by Tamorlan/Wikimedia Commons and Cape Town Daily Photo/

Many of South Africa’s best-loved and well-known brands or products have been around for decades making them part of our heritage. Think Ouma rusks, for example, or Marmite. However, there are a few brands that most of us believe are proudly South African but are not.


Who doesn’t know the classic green bar of soap used to clean anything under the sun? Launched in late Victorian England, Sunlight was one of Unilever’s first products, and was the world’s first packaged and branded soap. Unilever founder William Hesketh Lever first sold Sunlight soap in the UK in 1885 when the country suffered from high levels of poverty and ill health. It was introduced to South Africa in 1891.


Carling Black Label also called “the beer of the South African working man” has sponsored Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, two of South Africa’s best-supported teams. Black Label was developed by Canadian Thomas Carling in Ontario in 1840 and was originally called Black & White Lager. South African Breweries only began brewing Black Label in the 1960s after buying the rights to brew it here.


Zambuk, one of the most popular South African brands, originates from England. The Zambuk Company of Leeds founded by Charles Edward Fulford first formulated it in 1902.


Justus von Liebig, a German scientist, invented Marmite, a yeast spread, in the late 19th century. In 1902, the Marmite Food Company was founded in England and launched its production and packaging. During the Covid pandemic there was a shortage of Marmite, sending many South Africans into a panic.


Many South Africans tend to have a clear preference between Marmite and Bovril. John Lawson Johnston created Bovril in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1880s. He experimented with what he called “fluid extract of beef”.


The London bakery Peek Freans invented Marie biscuits. The company created the biscuits for the marriage of the Russian grand duchess Maria Alexandrovna to Britain’s prince Alfred in 1874. The biscuits soon became popular in India, South Africa, and Australia.


Many of us grew up with the bright red and yellow Aromat shaker in the spice cupboard. This perceived proudly South African brand of spice is not South African at all. The German food company, Knorr, owns Aromat. It originated in Switzerland. Walter Obrist introduced it to the world in 1952 and South Africans in particular really liked it.