Since joining the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) trade missions, a family-owned business has managed to globalise its business and is now exporting to 23 countries. Tammy Fry Kelly, international marketing director of the Fry Food Group, and daughter of founders Wally and Debbie Fry, says her parents started the business in 1991. “My parents owned a successful construction business and my dad built a piggery for one of his clients. One day he visited the piggery and on seeing all of the pigs being slaughtered, vowed never to eat meat again,” says Fry Kelly. Wally and Debbie, who has been a vegan since birth, then realised there were no meat alternatives on the market and not many food options to choose from. This then led them to experiment with different recipes so that they could find something suitable for their family’s consumption. “They tried new recipes for vegan burgers for two to three years and eventually developed something really tasty,” says Fry Kelly. The recipe was never meant to be used for commercial purposes, but one day a friend of the family approached Pick n Pay with the recipe and the family were given a national listing on the same day. “We did not have a brand, packaging or a name and when someone asked Wally what the name was, he responded by saying Fry’s Special,” says Fry Kelly. The business name has subsequently changed to Fry Group Foods. Since then, Fry Group Foods’ products are stocked in all the mainstream retailers such as Checkers, Woolworths, Spar as well as independent stores. Fry Kelly says, when looking for partners, agents and distributors, the family usually look for like-minded people who share the same values. “Our partners in the UK are a family of vegans who share our beliefs and values,” says Fry Kelly. She says the Fry Group first became involved with the DTI’s trade mission to Anuga in 2001, and the business took off after that. Fry says she believes that the reason for the business’ success is that the whole family comes to work every day, not to make money, but because they love what they do and that there is a purpose behind that. All three daughters and two of the daughters’ husbands work in the business. However, Fry Kelly says there is no nepotism and each family member has had to earn their stripes. “My husband started as a cleaner and had to work hard to get where he is now because we don’t take anything for granted,” says Fry Kelly. He now serves as director of systems and compliance. Their plans for the future? “Making the world a better place, one veggie meal at a time,” responds Fry Kelly, quoting the business’ slogan
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