Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 8

Previously, Ms. Spencer held marketing
roles at General Mills for nearly
a decade. More recently, she worked at
data technology company SPINS, tracking
market shifts and trends in the food and
beverage industry. Mr. Spencer previously
held corporate finance roles.
The founders partnered with chef
Eric Adjepong to develop additional dishes,
including chicken yassa and waakye.
The brand also offers two jarred sauces.
Products are available in retail stores, including
Whole Foods Market, Kroger and
Target locations.
Ayo means " joy " in Yoruba, a West
African language.
" We exist to get people excited about
Frederick and
Perteet Spencer
experiencing West African food and
culture, and we hope as they enjoy some
of our frozen meals, that creates a pathway
for them to enjoy West African ingredients
and flavors across the store, which
really opens up a whole host of opportunities
for us as we scale, " Ms. Spencer said.
This past June, Ayo Foods raised
AYO FOODS
at Natural Products Expo East in September,
industry leadership remains overwhelmingly
white.
" We don't have much representation
of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other
people of color on our industry boards or
within our industry leadership circles, "
said Carlotta Mast, senior vice president
of New Hope Network, during the event.
" And that's increasingly going to be a challenge
for our industry because how can we
stay relevant to and serve an increasingly
diverse consumer base if our leadership
doesn't reflect the needs and the behaviors
and the desires of those consumers? "
Finding joy
Perteet and Frederick Spencer last
year launched Ayo Foods, a brand of
frozen meals featuring West African
recipes ranging from jollof rice to cassava
leaf stew to egusi soup. The venture was
inspired by Ms. Spencer's heritage and
upbringing as the daughter of a Liberian
immigrant.
" Our launch in frozen was super
intentional because there is not plentiful
or an easily accessible supply to many of
these ingredients, so we wanted to make
it as easy as possible for people to enjoy
these foods, " Ms. Spencer said. " In my
mind there's no easier way than to just
heat it in the microwave for three and a
half minutes. For us, we're protecting that
whole process. We spend all the hours
sourcing those ingredients. A lot
of West African food is really
marked by slow cooked flavors.
We replicate that process
in our plant to protect
the integrity of the food. "
approximately $1.5 million in a seed round
led by Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital
fund established by former McDonald's
chief executive officer Don Thompson.
The founders planned to use the proceeds
to support manufacturing, marketing and
retail distribution. Supply Change Capital
also participated in the round.
" Ayo is well-positioned to win
Ayo Foods, a brand of
frozen meals, features West
in the fast-growing $65 billion frozen
foods category where global cuisines are
showing strong growth, and the company
has impressive performance at a national
level, " Ms. Harris of Supply Change Capital
said. " Ayo's ingredient supply chain is also
uniquely better-for-you and better for the
planet. They are bringing high-protein
egusi melon seeds and upcycled
cassava and sorghum leaves
to the center of plate, while
investing in sustainable
supply chains. "
African recipes ranging from
jollof rice to cassava leaf
stew to egusi soup.
The startup also is
AYO FOODS
34
Food Business News
October 12, 2021

Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021

Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 1
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 3
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 4
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 5
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 6
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 7
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 8
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 9
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 10
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 11
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 12
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 13
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 14
Food Entrepreneur - October 12, 2021 - 15
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-may-10-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-february-15-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-october-12-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-august-17-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-june-22-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-may-11-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/food-entrepreneur-march-3-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2021_01_05
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2020_12_08
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2020_09_15
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2020_06_23
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2020_05_12
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2020_03_03
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/fbn_fe/2020_01_07
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com