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Marie Sharp’s Africa shines at the 2021 Condiment and Sauce Awards

Marie Sharp’s Africa entered the Condiment and Sauce Awards and performed exceptionally well. We asked Lauren Weaver, a businesswoman with 28 years experience, a few questions to find out about her success.

Please tell us when your company was founded and some of its history?

During a family holiday to Belize in 2016, we came across Marie Sharp’s products and recognised a winning flavour in the hot sauce category. Having visited the factory, I brought quite a few bottles back to South Africa for family and friends to try. The favourable feedback was the deciding factor to import Marie Sharp’s to South Africa. I contacted the factory and negotiated the distribution contract for Africa with Marie Sharp’s in 2017. Starting with one pallet of sauce, I sold at markets and fairs once again to garner the public’s opinion. The response to the quality and taste was very favourable. Taking a leap of faith, I ordered my first 20-foot container filled with 60,000 bottles of sauce. Today we are selling in many Spar stores and Family Pick n Pays throughout South Africa and Namibia.  Our goal is to increase our footprint in the rest of Africa. We want to be on shelves in many more retail stores making Marie Sharp’s stunning sauces available to many more people in Africa.

All eleven babies from Marie Sharp's Africa

What are some of the unique features of your company?

Marie Sharp’s Africa is a woman-owned business following in the footsteps of Mrs. Marie Sharps herself. We are based in Cape Town and distribute nationally with warehousing in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Namibia. Our products are competing in a very established and competitive market, something no other large-scale hot sauce producer has done in Africa.

What do you think are some of the unique products you have? 

The Green Nopal Cactus Habanero Pepper Sauce is unique in that it contains the cactus plant, prominently grown in Central America. The Nopal is well known for its treatment of diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and hangovers. It’s also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

The Marie Smoked Habanero is made from smoked peppers using four different types of fruitwoods: Craboo wood, Grapefruit wood, Guava wood, and Orangewood. The smoking gives the sauce its intensely smoky flavour.

The Red Hornet is an exciting new cultivar, especially developed and grown by Marie Sharp’s. It is a blend of the Trinidad Scorpion and the Red Habanero. This new sauce is by far the hottest in our range and is not for the faint-hearted. Like all Marie Sharp’s Sauces, it still carries immense flavour together with the fiery hot heat.

Marie Sharp's Africa Smoked Habanero Pepper sauce

What are some of the unique features of your manufacturing process and your manufacturing philosophy?

Marie Sharp’s manufactures products from farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices. All are organically grown on Marie sharp’s farms in Belize. The entire manufacturing process occurs under one roof, with the peppers coming in via a shoot in the back door and the pallets of sauces getting packed into containers out the front door. They use enormous vats to store and cook delicious sauces, and the distinct aroma of the habanero permeates the entire factory. Marie uses carrots as the base for all her sauces and this provides an excellent balance for the heat of the habaneros, and it creates a natural sweetness to carry the heat. No preservatives, oils, or artificial ingredients are used in any of the sauces. Only the sweet habanero has added sugar, the rest are calorie-free and 100% natural. Marie supports female employment in Belize and her factory is made up of 90% female employees. She is an avid campaigner for ending gender-based violence and her Pineapple Pure Love sauce was made to support this cause. The label on the bottle is an expression of Pure Love between a man and a woman with the words: “Real man do not hit women”, phrased in a true Caribbean accent.

What do you think is your distinct advantage or reason for your success?

Many years of previous business experience and having a great team working by my side. It is an advantage that I love marketing and selling, as a new product and brand need a lot of work to make in-roads into today’s challenging retail markets. We have taken the Social Media aspect of marketing seriously and are building up a good following. We have a young and dynamic creative team who love designing posts to keep the public engaged with our brand. However, nothing beats the face-to-face sale introducing a buyer to a new product, offering a tasting, and explaining the benefits to the customer and their bottom line.

What is the consumer demographic of your products, and what feedback are you getting?

Currently, we are selling nationally in South Africa as well as Namibia. The feedback is strongly positive, with consumers loving the flavour and natural ingredients. Customers are becoming more concerned with what they are consuming, and some competitor sauces have too many additives. The introduction of the Red Hornet is going to satisfy the customers who thought our Beware was not hot enough. I would love to see their responses when they try the Red Hornet.

Where does your company fit on the global stage?

Marie Sharp’s is available in over 31 territories worldwide. We are part of a family with Marie Sharp’s (country name) and all take pride in having a share of something special. It’s such fun liking each other’s social posts and sharing when we can. I am proud to say that Africa posts are often shared.

In which countries can your products be found?

Japan, Hawaii, Africa, Canada, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Lebanon, USA, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Kuwait, Australia & Israel.

Do you perhaps have some innovations in the pipeline?

Marie Sharp’s will continue to be the Queen of Habanero, and as such new and exciting recipes will be forthcoming. We will be adding more flavours to the range in Africa, as well as some jams and squashes.

Contact person: Lauren Weaver

Email address: lauren@mariesharpsafrica.com

Contact number: 082-781-1497

Website address: https://www.mariesharpsafrica.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mariesharpsafrica/

Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/mariesharpsafrica/?hl=en