The manufacturing and canning of fish began in the 1930s with species such as maasbanker, mackerel and snoek. The major players in the market were California and, on a smaller scale, Japan. There was little local appeal for canned fish, so most of this was exported.


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The Californian fish resource collapsed in the mid-1940s and canning in the USA stopped. When this collapse happened, some members of the South African pelagic fishing industry saw an opportunity and purchased the equipment from California to set up a canning facility in Walvis Bay.


The canning of pilchards in South Africa experienced a boom between 1947 and 1949. At this stage, there were approximately 17 canners competing for the export market, supplying agents and customers under their own buyer labels and brands with a low-cost, unbranded commodity product.

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In the 1950s, six of the big players started to market their products under their own labels, two of these being Glenryck Pilchards (marketed by Marine Products) and Saldanha Pilchards (marketed by the Saldanha Group).



By 1964, the six major players in the canned pilchard industry had joined Federal Fish Packers to form Federal Marine Ltd, which meant that all three of the major brands, namely Lucky Star, Saldanha and Glenryck, were produced and marketed by one company.


After 1994, Federal Marine received an enormous amount of pressure from the Competition Board for being a ‘monopoly’, so in 1998 the three major brands split up to be marketed and managed by different companies.

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The Saldanha brand was retained by the Saldanha Group, and Marine Products took back its Glenryck brand. This left Lucky Star, which was sold off along with Federal Marine Ltd, in a closed auction to the Oceana Group Ltd, and subsequently Federal Marine Ltd was rebranded to Oceana Brands Ltd.

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Oceana Brands soon realised there were more opportunities within the South African market, other than pilchards. With Lucky Star pilchards being the market leader within the canned fish market, it was easy to introduce new products to this strong brand, which was trusted for its consistent quality, health credentials and value for money offering within the protein sector.

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The first of these additions was in 2002 when Curried & Pickled Pilchards were launched. Pickled pilchards are traditionally eaten over Easter, but Oceana Brands felt that this product was too tasty not to be enjoyed all year round. This was marketed under a white label with a blue wave and with a different logo design to the original iconic pilchard pack, in an attempt to make it look more premium and attract a broader consumer demographic into the Lucky Star family.

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As the curried and pickled pilchards were well accepted, just two years later Oceana Brands introduced another product to the premium range, namely Lucky Star Sardines in Vegetable Oil.


Between 2004 and 2011, various products were introduced to the Lucky Star range (Mackerel in Tomato Sauce, Jack Mackerel in Tomato Sauce, Middlecut in Brine, Shredded Tuna in Oil & Water and Tuna Chunks in Oil & Water). All the new products, except the ones in tomato sauce, were launched under the more premium looking ‘white’ label.

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In keeping with the Brand DNA, all new products introduced to the range underwent testing before their launch to ensure that they met the criteria set by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of SA and Diabetes SA, to retain the health credentials consumers had come to trust.


Through extensive consumer research, a trend emerged that consumers were not aware of the full Lucky Star range due to the lack of brand cues on the premium range of products’ packaging. So, in 2012 all products were standardised to carry the iconic red/yellow block logo, as per the pilchards.

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As the Lucky Star sardines became the number one brand in the sardine category, in 2012 another two variants were launched to the range: Smoked sardines flavoured with vegetable oil and sardines in water with salt added. In keeping with market trends, the sardine range was re-launched in easy opening, printed/lithographed cans.

Toward the end of 2013, Smoked Mussels were introduced to the Lucky Star range of tasty, versatile and convenient products.


Marketing and advertising

Marketing to a varied set of consumers is not an easy task. Different types of media are consumed amongst different LSM groups, with regionality and access to services also sometimes playing a role. Knowing that the core brand intrinsics are all about good taste and healthy eating, all the Lucky Star marketing campaigns have an element of this within them. Looking at the most recent marketing campaign you will see that we have brought to life the iconic brand through the concept of Super Food.



Lucky Star stands proud as the ultimate protein. It offers us omega 3 health, full of freshness, famous flavour, supreme stretch and real variety for an amazing life.You are what you eat, so make sure you’re putting the right kind of fuel into your body.

Lucky Star builds better bodies and sharper minds. If everybody ate Lucky Star all the time, the world would be filled with beautiful, intelligent people. The kind of people we all aspire to be. It’s Super Food for Super People.

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We’ve created a larger-than-life TV commercial with some of the most Super People around in South Africa. We’re on radio stations and billboards around the country and billboard and we’re constantly interacting with consumers through exciting events, trade shows, trade promotions, broadsheet advertising and more recently, through the rapidly growing Facebook & Twitter communities.

This campaign is going to introduce the younger generation to this iconic brand making it relevant, fresh and exciting. So join us as we take a step toward SUPER with Lucky Star. Super Food.