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Mar 05, 2015 • By

Spreading the love for a vintage Australian brand

Few people outside of Australia have probably heard of Peck’s, the tasty meat spread in four varieties – deviled ham, chicken and ham, anchovette, and salmon and lobster – that are spread on toast, crackers and sandwiches.

Millions in Australia, however, grew up on the product that arrived from Great Britain in 1904, and had its strongest sales in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, Peck’s is one of the best kept secrets in the General Mills family – one that’s comparable to Diablitos, an equally popular meat spread we sell in Venezuela.

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“Peck’s is Australia’s market leader in the meat and fish spreads category,” says Matt Salter, marketing manager for Peck’s. “Yes, it’s an old brand that had its heyday post-World War II, but there are still plenty of consumers who love it.”

Peck’s has a devoted following among consumers who grew up with it packed in school lunches when Peck’s was touted as an affordable way to add protein to the diet.

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But a brand can’t live on its heritage alone.

Recently, Peck’s has targeted consumers dubbed the “new nostalgics,” people whose parents or grandparents treated them to it years ago.

How is Peck’s doing this? Via General Mills Australia’s new website, Plateful.com.

“We are providing inspiration for younger people to use Peck’s in new and inspiring ways,” Matt says.

Top off a baked potato with Peck’s Deviled Ham. Spread Anchovette – an anchovy-based fish paste – on toast and top if off with scrambled eggs at breakfast. Or use Peck’s Chicken and Ham on mini-pizzas.

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Peck’s meat spreads were introduced in England in 1891. Thirteen years later, the British-based Harry Peck & Co. began exporting its products to Australia. By 1938, Peck’s set up in Australia and began making canned meat and fish products.

Today, Peck’s products are made at a General Mills plant in Sydney. The majority of the meat proteins used in Peck’s come from Australia. Matt notes that certain ingredients such as salmon come from Australia’s west coast as well as New Zealand.

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Peck’s isn’t the only meat spread in the General Mills family.

Diablitos Underwood in Venezuela is popular among spreadable meats there. When Pillsbury sold its Underwood Meat Spreads brand in 1999, the company held onto the product rights in Venezuela. But it was 20 years earlier in 1979 that the histories of Underwood and Peck’s intersected.

That was the year that Massachusetts-based William Underwood Co. purchased Peck’s. Three years later in 1982, Chicago-based IC Industries – which later changed its name to Whitman Corp. – acquired Underwood. Peck’s then became part of Whitman’s Pet Foods division.

In 1995, Pillsbury bought Pet Foods, adding Underwood and Peck’s as well as the Old El Paso and Progresso brands. Six years later, General Mills acquired Pillsbury.

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