Ready Meals

AYO Foods Debuts West African Ready Meals at Whole Foods Stores

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Frozen meals just got more joyful. AYO Foods, a line of authentic West African-inspired cuisine, has developed a partnership with Whole Foods and is now available at nearly 50 retail outlets throughout Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

AYO Means “joy” in Yoruba, a language spoken in Nigeria, Benin, Togo and parts of Ghana. The Chicago-based frozen food company spotlighting the term in its branding was founded by Perteet and Fred Spencer (pictured above), who have tapped into their family’s own recipes that have been shared across generations. The range features nutrient-dense, flavor-infused ready meals and offers grocers the opportunity to attract new and existing customers – including America’s West African millennial population.

Three mild- to medium-spiced options, now available in 8-ounce (227-gram) packaging offered at a suggested retail price of $5.99, are detailed below:

Cassava Leaf Soup – Ground cassava leaves, chicken and spices slow cooked into a soup. The cassava plant’s fibrous leaves are simmered with chicken, cayenne pepper and savory spices.

Jollof Rice – One part long-grain rice spiced and stewed in a tomato broth with roasted red peppers and onions. A staple throughout West Africa, the AYO recipe is based on the classic version.

Egusi Seed Soup – Ground melon seeds, fresh peppers, onions and spinach slow cooked into a savory stew. The recipe is loaded with nutrients and high in protein and healthy fats.

The Spencers believe the brand has strong growth potential based on a number of evolving food trends in the USA. Among the trends are: rising appeal of healthy meals that can be conveniently prepared; increasing demand for frozen ethnic cuisine (three of the top five fastest growing frozen specialty entrees sold at grocery stores are internationally inspired); and estimates that more than a third of persons ordering take-out or home-delivered food are opting for ethnic cuisine at lest once a week.