Tony Mepa’s line of products reflects a mind hungry for innovation. The founder of Atchariser decided it was time to change atchar, which has been consumed as a spicy relish for years, into something new – a sauce. The Tshwane-based entrepreneur launched his business in 2020, but his products can already be found on the shelves of Spar, Roots, News Cafe and many more outlets.
While he can claim success for a business that has not been running for a long time, Mepa told Vutivi News that the process was costly and almost insurmountable. “I started doing market research in 2019 and saw that I had to find a new way of consuming this old product and also appeal to health-conscious people,” he said.
“I came up with this idea after I wanted to write a cookbook, but I didn’t want to use conventional ingredients for the dishes I had in mind. I identified a gap in the atchar market and thought of different ways to make atchar.” Mepa explained that he first had to design a machine that turned atchar into a sauce and come up with a new method to preserve the sauce.
This took a lot of sacrifices. “I had to sell my car and downgrade my living conditions in order to be able to afford all of this,” he said. “However, all the sacrifices paid off in a way that I wasn’t expecting,” Mepa said that he started with a small shop in 2020, before moving into a 250m² factory. Today he has a factory in Wynberg, Johannesburg, where he manufactures 10,000 units per week.
He distributes his products to 27 Spar shops, 34 Roots outlets, Meat World, Royal Butcheries and a number of restaurants in Gauteng. “The product sells itself,” he told Vutivi News. “When I approached retailers with my sauce, they told me that the market was saturated with sauces. When I told them that my sauce is atchar sauce, they loved it so much that they immediately gave me a distribution deal.”
Mepa was gobsmacked by the popularity of his product. “I almost gave up many times but looking back I realise that had it not been for my perseverance and sticking to my vision, I would not have been where I am today,” he said. Mepa employs nine people and is currently in the process of expanding his range to include other products like atchar bread and atchar spread.