A taste of West Africa is now in the frozen food section of your favorite grocery store thanks to AYO.
In West Africa, “ayo” means joy, and that’s exactly the feeling the founders Petreet and Fred Spencer feel when seeing their hard work pay off.
The Hyde Park couple launched AYO Foods in 2020 and quickly found an audience as the pandemic loomed and the demand grew from 50 stores to over 4,000 locations. With more and more families cooking, and eating at home, AYO found its niche as a new alternative in the freezer aisle with their Puff Puff, Shinto and Pepper Sauce.
“As we looked at the frozen food landscape, we saw a notable gap in the flavors that celebrated West Africa,” Petreet Spencer said. “We really wanted to take the time to bring something to the frozen food aisle, one that celebrated our Liberian heritage but also these incredible layers of West Africa.”
Partnering with Top Chef alum Eric Adjepong furthered the work inspired by Petreet’s fond memories of growing up eating her family’s recipes. Staying true to the authenticity of ingredients, texture and flavor was paramount in developing the line, the Spencers said.
“We saw and continue to see that West African food was absent and we wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity with her background and my background to fulfill that gap and started AYO in 2020,” Fred Spencer said.
In Kpelle, “Moonboi” means property and the Spencers believe that AYO has a responsibility to enrich the communities that inspired their products. They did so by launching the Moonboi Project, working with Girl Power Africa, a non-profit committed to empowering women and children whose lives have been impacted by Civil War and Ebola in Liberia.
Through their partnership with Girl Power Africa and the power of food, AYO is supporting the cultivation of 15 acres of Liberian farmland.
To learn more about AYO Foods and find a grocery store near you, click here.
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