For 30 years, the Fry Family Food Co has been the go-to for non-GM meat alternatives in South Africa.
From humble beginnings to reaching a worldwide market, this proudly South African plant-based brand has truly made its mark in the culinary world. Driven by the principle of making meat-free meals more accessible and the desire to create tasty plant-based products that they themselves could eat, the Fry family has truly created a legacy.
In celebration of Fry’s 30th anniversary, we sat down with co-founder and global brand lead of Fry’s, Tammy Fry, to understand some of her milestones and lessons she’s learnt being a part of the Fry Family Food Co. journey.
Fry’s has been in the business for 30 years! What are some key lessons that you and your family have learned so far?
“How important a strong value system is. Values should underpin everything you do in your business. Start slow and keep it simple. We had a slow growth of the business over the first few years, however, we made sure we did things properly and had a solid footing before we moved on to each growth stage,” says Tammy.
According to Tammy, things can change in an instant which is why it’s important for business owners to be adaptable and that “starting a plant-based food business in such a meat-centric market 30 years ago really taught us this.”
“Believe in your mission and stick to your guns. As a family we always believed 100% in our mission and I believe this is one of our main reasons for success,” says Tammy.
Over the years we’ve seen tremendous growth in veganism and plant-based eating. When did you see the shift in consumer habits?
“My parents really were the plant-based pioneers in South Africa. For many years we were the only brand offering plant-based meat alternatives. And because we have been doing this for three decades, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the real shift in consumer awareness. I guess it really started changing globally about 5 to 6 years ago, and then we started to really feel that shift in South Africa about 3 to 4 years ago.”
Watch the heartwarming video of the family behind the Fry Family Food Co:
You’ve raised your sons, Josh and Kai, on Fry’s. Any tips for parents looking to switch with their little ones?
“Keep the conversation going, encourage curiosity and awareness in the kitchen. Be gentle and allow space for them to try new things. Don’t be too fastidious about events, parties, school trips. If you can offer plant-based versions of their favourites then go for it but again be gentle,” says Tammy.
According to Tammy, having a variety of snacks on offer at home, especially the plant-based versions of their favourites also helps. “Fry’s does great chicken-style nuggets, hotdogs and sausage rolls, all of which we’ve found kids really love.”
What is one of your favourite milestones since being a part of the Fry’s journey? Apart from turning your dad vegetarian, of course!
“There are so many key moments, which I suppose makes sense when looking back at three decades. But I think some of my top moments were when we sent our first export container outside of SA (to the UK) and when we launched our range in Australia. When we joined LIVEKINDLY Collective to become part of what will be the biggest plant-based food company in the world and then this year when we were the top-selling vegan chicken burger in the WORLD on the abillion app.
This year was a big one for us - along with launching in the USA, we partnered with Sea Shepherd this year and will be donating the proceeds from the sales of our Fishless Fillets and Prawn-Style Pieces to help them in their fight for marine conservation.
And then I think the biggest one of all for me – which happens all the time - I have always loved seeing consumers try our products for the first time and be blown away at how it ‘tastes like meat’! And knowing that every sausage sold is one less meat sausage that is made.” says Tammy.
You say you were “born a vegetarian”. What would you say caused your diversion to animal protein?
“I have just always been an animal lover. The concept of killing an animal so that I could have meat on my plate has just never, ever made any sense to me.”
Lastly, congratulations on the big 30th celebration. Where to from here?
Another 30! And then many more.. Working with LIVEKINDLY Collective we are part of their mission to make plant-based eating the new norm. The Collective Kitchen is part of this initiative. How incredible for us to be part of the world’s first virtual plant-based kitchen with top class chefs from around the world creating recipes and making plant-based dishes with Fry’s and our sister brands.
We are going to change the way people see their food by making delicious alternatives readily accessible across the globe. This is what excites me the most. Plus we have some really cool new products coming in 2022 (still hush hush though).