Fry Family Foods – Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza

I bought a new vegan pizza from the Grocery Outlet recently – Fry’s Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza – and I think it’s most likely the best vegan pizza that I’ve ever had! A significant portion of my all-important (especially during lockdown) freezer compartment is now occupied by four Fry’s BBQ pizzas.

The South African brand was completely new to me – after expanding distribution in the UK in 2018, Fry’s has just started distributing to the US this yearlaunching in Sprouts stores as well as the Grocery Outlet). When I saw a selection of Fry’s vegan products in the Grocery Outlet freezer last month, I cautiously bought two items – vegan sausage rolls and the barbecue pizza. Since then, I’ve bought and tried a few more products from Fry’s range (vegan “chicken” nuggets and crispy “fish” fillets) so I’ll be covering some of them in a future post. But I’ll start with the pizza as that’s what I had first.

About Fry’s Family Foods

The Fry Family Food Company has been making vegan meat substitutes in South Africa since 1991. After becoming vegetarian in the 80’s, Wally and Debbie Fry experimented in their Durban kitchen, making plant-based sausages and other meat substitutes for themselves, and then for friends and neighbors, and it grew from there. You can imagine that there wasn’t quite so large a market for plant-based foods back then, so Fry’s did well to survive for three decades. Now it’s distributed to more than 30 countries and besides the main facility in Durban, SA, Fry’s has a headquarters in Australia and a contract production facility in the UK.

It turns out I’m not the only fan – Fry’s has been scoring high in the UK’s annual Vegfest awards, winning the best vegan “meat” award again in 2020. I have to admit that I wasn’t aware of these awards but I watched a bit of the 2020 award ceremony and saw that Fry’s was lauded for its longtime support and advocacy for initiatives like Meat Free Mondays. 

Here’s a pretty fancy video that tells the Fry’s story, complete with a reenactment of scenes from their early days:

Review of Fry’s Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of BBQ sauce, so I really wasn’t expecting to love this pizza so much. It also appeared to be lacking in (vegan) cheese, so I thought it might not really taste like pizza. However, it tastes like it has cheese on it, so I inspected the ingredient list (see below) to figure out what was going on. There’s an ingredient sprinkled on top that’s cryptically called Vegetable Preparation and it basically fits the bill as a vegan cheese: It’s made mainly from veggie starch and coconut oil. The pizza works because of the way everything ties together – the grilled peppers, sauce, cheese, and vegan chicken strips. But the best thing about it is the crust – it’s a thin, flaky crust that’s like a cross between a good flatbread and Neapolitan pizza.

Fry’s Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza – Ingredients

Because the ingredient list is so long (like many pizzas [so many parentheses!]), I’ve highlighted the main ingredients in bold font.

Soft Wheat flour (Gluten) (31%), Fry’s Vegan Chicken-Style Strips (11%) (Vegetable Protein [Soya, Wheat {Gluten}], Vegetable Oil [Sunflower Seed], Flavouring, Maize Starch, Yeast Extract, Potato Starch, Wheat Flour [Gluten], Thickener [Methyl Cellulose], Salt, Garlic), Tomato Passata, Tomato Pulp, Vegetable Preparation (Water, Modified Potato and Maize Starch, Vegetable Oil [Coconut Kernel], Vegetable Protein [Rice], Salt, Vegetable Fibre [Acacia Gum, Chicory], Flavourings, Stabilizer [Tara Gum], Colourants [Calcium Carbonate, _-Carotene], Preservative: Sorbic Acid, Vitamin B12), BBQ Sauce (8%) (Water, Beer Stout [Barley], Sugar, Tomato Puree, Vinegar, Modified Starch, Molasses, Salt, Garlic Puree, Smoke Flavouring, Spice [Mustard, Cayenne, Cumin]), Water, Grilled Red Peppers (4%), Grilled Yellow Peppers (4%), Red Onion (4%), Vegetable Oil (Sunflower Seed), Vegetable Oil [Olive Fruit] (Extra Virgin), Salt, Yeast, Vegetable Oil [Olive Fruit], Sugar, Oregano, Basil.

Fry Family Foods Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza nutritional information chart.

Ethical rating for Fry’s Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza

Since I’m going to review several products from Fry’s Family Foods, I thought I would start by doing this review without looking for any information besides what’s on the packaging. The point of that is just to give an idea of how to write a Green Stars review without having to do much or any research online, as many people don’t have time for that. In future reviews of Fry’s products, I’ll add more information as it becomes available.

Fry Family Foods Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza is shown with an ethical rating of 4.5 out of 5 green stars for social and environmental impact

So, based purely on the information available on the packaging, here’s a summary of how I feel about the social and environmental impact of Fry’s Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza. I’m scoring it 4.5/5 Green Stars for social and environmental impact.

  • It’s a completely vegan product, as are all of the company’s products
  • It’s the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had – this is important (even as an ethical criterion) because we aren’t so likely to move away from animal products unless vegan versions are actually tasty.
  • The pizza contains no palm oil, being made instead mainly from (more expensive) coconut, sunflower and olive oils.
  • The ingredients are not organic but are listed as GM-free.  This is a complicated issue (see my post on the Impossible Burger for a bit more info on it) and while I would prefer organic ingredients, being GM-free does at least imply some independence from the Agrichemical industry. I’ll provide some more info in future posts on Fry’s here and I’m also in the middle of writing a few posts on the Agrichemical industry over on the Green Stars Project.
  • There’s a fair bit of international shipping involved (with refrigeration) in getting this pizza to me as it’s made in Italy. The weird thing about pizzas in the US though (including Trader Joe’s pizzas) is that almost every pizza I’ve ever examined or bought here has been made in Italy.
  • Packaging is minimal, with a very light plastic wrap and outer box.

One thing to bear in mind in general is that pizza’s remarkably easy to make at home, so perhaps I should feel guilty that so much of my freezer real estate is taken up by frozen pizza. Perhaps I could defend it by pointing out that making pizza at home might involve buying (vegan) cheese, tomato sauce, etc., all of which has to be packaged and shipped too. A more general defense, however, is that transportation normally constitutes only a small part of food’s carbon footprint, compared to growing and processing ingredients. There are some exceptions, of course, such as items transported by air.

Overall, “food miles” do not matter as much as other considerations when deter-mining the carbon impact of food production, consumption, and disposal (except perhaps for fresh food that is air freighted). Minimizing food waste and composting the unavoidable food waste could have a much larger benefit than switching from a distant supplier to a local supplier. – Wakeland et al.

The good thing about doing ethical evaluations (even brief ones like this one) is that they help us evaluate broader life choices.

Summary scores (out of 5) for Fry’s Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza:

  • 5 gold stars for quality and value
  • 4.5 green stars for social and environmental impact

If you have a different opinion, please share your rating! Until next time, stay safe : )  

Published by jkaybay

I have two sites, both focused on ethical consumerism. The Green Stars Project (https://greenstarsproject.org/) examines topics related to ethical consumption and aims to start a movement based on crowd-sourced ethical ratings. Ethical Bargains (https://ethicalbargains.org/) is focused on rating new products, especially plant-based food items, that I've bought at the Grocery Outlet.

5 thoughts on “Fry Family Foods – Smoky BBQ Woodfired Pizza

    1. Thanks Amanda! I tried the schnitzels, btw, and thought they were good – they went well with veggies. I also have the burgers In my freezer but haven’t tried yet 🙂

      Like

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