South Africans get a taste of Canada

Canadian event at Pick n Pay.

Canadian smoked salmon.

Canapés made from Canadian ingredients.

Food tasting at the Canada pavilion.

Visitors trying their hand at ball hockey.

Canada at the Diplomatic Fair.

Smoked salmon pizzas; maple syrup glazed BBQ short ribs; chocolate and maple macaroons – sounds delicious!

South African markets were given a fresh taste of Canadian cuisine thanks to the Canadian High Commission Trade Office in Johannesburg in partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, through a series of events promoting Canadian agricultural products to the South African public.

“Although you may not know it, every time you eat low-GI bread or a hearty winter soup, chances are strong that you are eating something grown in Canada." - Barbara Giacomin, Senior Trade Commissioner

The main event was an evening reception held at the Pick n Pay flagship store’s Good Food Studio in Johannesburg. Pick n Pay is one of South Africa’s largest supermarket chains and the Good Food Studio provided a unique opportunity to showcase Canadian products currently available on Pick n Pay shelves in-store, in a casual and elegant venue.

The evening was attended by over 100 guests, many of whom were pleasantly surprised to learn that so many tasty Canadian food products were readily available at their local Pick n Pay store. Leveraging Canada’s reputation as the leading producer of maple syrup, as well one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of salmon, the event was designed to highlight these specific foods. It also served to promote some of Canada’s lesser known food exports to South Africa, including wild rice, lentils and pork.

John, a guest at the event, was surprised to learn that so many food items available locally were from Canada: "When we think of Canada, we mostly think of snow, never as a place that grows rice and lentils!"

From these selected items, delicious dishes were prepared, including: smoked salmon pizzas; maple syrup glazed BBQ short ribs; a cranberry, wild rice, lentil and salmon salad; salmon sashimi; smoked salmon paté and for those with a sweet tooth: chocolate and maple macaroons; and maple syrup rice crispy squares covered in chocolate ganache on a chocolate brownie. Enough to make anyone’s mouth water!

"Canada exports such varied food products to South Africa, ranging from the less well-known items such grains and lentils, to the more obvious salmon and maple syrup,” said Barbara Giacomin, Senior Trade Commissioner.

Various South African wine estates were also present and offered wine pairings to complement the dishes, and to help demonstrate how Canadian and local products could come together in tasty harmony. As this was the first event of its kind to promote the Canada Brand in South Africa, the room was decorated with Canada-themed banners, tablecloths, serviettes and information pamphlets.

The evening reception followed a weeklong in-store promotion of similar Canadian products. The promotion was held at the front of the store in a promotional kitchen where a chef would prepare bite-sized treats for passers-by to taste and provide information about the Canadian item, while having the product on display and available for purchase.

The following two days saw Canadian foods prominently featured at the Canadian pavilion of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation Diplomatic Fair, providing an opportunity to showcase Canadian products to a diverse cross-section of the South African community. Over 2,000 people attended the two-day event and the Canadian pavilion, with its ball-hockey rink and showcase of Canadian foods was a highlight.

As South Africans are known for being fiercely brand-loyal, events such as these provide an excellent opportunity to introduce consumers to new products, as well as showcase many of the Canadian goods that are currently available in-country. Although South Africa has quickly become the gateway to Africa for more and more Canadian exporters and investors, Canadian presence in the South African market is often unknown. For two countries located at opposite ends of the globe, making this strong commercial connection is a significant development.

Within Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is Canada’s third largest trading partner. In 2011, Canada exported over $152 million in agricultural and agri-food products to South Africa.