Rice made in south America and sold in France using Groot Constantia facade on the box

Cape Town - Rice isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Groot Constantia.

But a brand of the popular starch being sold in French supermarkets would make you think the famous estate had its own secret rice paddy.

The rice, which is grown in Uruguay, boxed in Italy and distributed by the supermarket chain Carrefour, is sold under the name “Riz de Amériques” (Rice of the Americas).

But instead of a picture of a Uruguayan landscape or an Italian villa on the box – the advertisers used an image of South Africa’s own Groot Constantia.

Jean Naudé, chief executive officer of the company that runs the historic wine estate, described the picture as “very unfortunate”, saying it wasn’t the first time it had been brought to his attention.

He was first made aware of the issue in 2009.

He contacted Carrefour, who put him in touch with the advertising agency involved.

“As a gesture of goodwill and without admission of liability, they said that they would advise their client to stop using the images and they had removed the image from their image bank,” said Naudé.

“This obviously didn’t happen.”

Groot Constantia, built in 1685 and one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa, has become an important part of the Cape’s heritage. Naudé said the image of the building was synonymous with the Constantia brand.

That they were continuing to use the image, even after being made aware of the estate’s history, put a question mark behind the integrity of one of the biggest supermarket groups in the world.

“I don’t understand how they can jeopardise their integrity in this way,” Naudé said.

A South African visiting France, Marius le Roux of Stellenbosch, sent the Cape Argus an empty box.

“I am aware that theft in South Africa has increased phenomenally in the past decade, but Groot Constantia now proudly standing somewhere in Uruguay must represent a new milestone in the achievement of the profession,” said Le Roux.

Carrefour had not yet responded to queries at the time of going to print.

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Cape Argus