Fry’s in a pickle

As many supermarkets and grocery store chains across the globe expand the choice of vegan products they offer, one leading UK health food retailer is seemingly going in the wrong direction.

Fry's Vegetarian... no more in H&B?

A recent tweet from a FGV reader alerted me to the fact that UK High Street retailer Holland & Barrett will no longer be selling the Fry’s Vegetarian range of frozen food. This news is a huge shock for the UK vegan community. Fry’s produce the finest range of frozen vegan goods in the world. Holland & Barrett has over 500 stores in the UK, reaching millions of consumers up and down the country. Consumers who are now without easy access to a quality brand of cruelty-free foods.

I struggled to come up with a plausible assumption as to why this could be happening, so I decided to go straight to the source. During a few email  exchanges with the Fry’s headquarters in South Africa, I was informed that Holland & Barrett refused to entertain the notion of a necessary price increase. Both Fry’s and their UK distributor Beanie’s Health Foods have insisted the small price increase was completely unavoidable and necessary to cover skyrocketing shipping, storage and transport costs.

Beanie’s went further in telling me that this requested price increase is only the second in a 10 year period. They state they are a small, family-owned business that would be supplying to Holland & Barrett at a loss without the increase. I have made repeated attempts to get Holland & Barrett’s side of the story, but to no avail. A phone call on Tuesday morning was never returned and a follow up today was passed between several departments including the buyers, reception and the PR firm in charge of press for the company. The PR people did call me back, took my details and insisted they would get back to me as soon as they could. No word yet. I’ll keep you updated.

My major concern with this situation is how adversely it affects the availability of vegan food across an entire country. None of the major supermarkets stock Fry’s, instead opting to carry the Quorn brand. Quorn is stocked in almost every food store you enter but is not vegan due to the inclusion of egg across the entire range. Holland & Barrett have effectively taken away the UK’s best supply of frozen vegan foods with this decision.

Without an official statement from Holland & Barrett to draw on, it is impossible to know what motivations are driving this decision. Does Holland & Barrett have cashflow problems? Unlikely. Holland & Barrett and its parent company NBTY were purchased by financial mega-company and investment firm The Carlyle Group last year in a US 4 billion dollar deal. If you would like to know more about this new parent company, check out the Wikipedia entry here. I can’t imagine cashflow is a problem for them.

Fry's chicken style strips on a bagel

I believe it is an enormous setback for vegans and potential vegans if an amazing range such as Fry’s disappears from the shelves of a major UK retailer. The sausages, schnitzels, cottage pie, sausage rolls, chicken style strips, nuggets, slicing sausage and other meat-free items make living cruelty-free a whole lot easier for many people. I think we should make every effort to convince Holland & Barrett that there is a huge market for these wonderful vegan products in the UK and they should reconsider their decision.

Please join me in reaching out to Holland & Barrett and asking for the guaranteed return of Fry’s Vegetarian to their freezers immediately. Here are some options to do so:

1. Visit your local store and voice your concerns. Ask the manager to pass on your concerns to Head Office.

2. Phone the Holland & Barrett head office and tell them you want Fry’s back in store. The number is 02476 244 400.

3. Email the company at customerservices@hollandandbarrett.com and let them know of your concerns.

4. Write an old-fashioned letter to let them know you want Fry’s back:

Samuel Ryder House
Barling Way
Eliot Park
Nuneaton
Warwickshire
CV10 7RH

I would love to know how many of us are speaking up for these wonderful products and companies. Let’s work hard to keep them in prominent UK stores. Please leave a comment below informing of the action you have taken and any response you receive.

Visit here for an earlier post on Fry’s. Selected Fry’s products remain available in independent health food retailers.

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About fatgayvegan

Fat. Gay. Vegan. Vegan everything including events, beer, food, PR and travel.
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28 Responses to Fry’s in a pickle

  1. Will Vigar says:

    I can see why some people would be upset, but still get baffled by the idea of vegans wanting food that looks and tastes like meat. With the wealth of flavours and textures on offer from vegan foods, why go for horrid highly processed meat substitutes? It makes no sense to me at all…

    Hey ho.

    • Helen says:

      I agree with Will Vigar that processed pretend meats are not necessary in a healthy vegan diet but I understand that some people need a bridge between the dietary practices of the majority and the seemingly spartan diet of the minority. Whilst I am not bothered (I thought Fry’s produced chocolate! in the old days) I defend the right of others to have products they desire and find H&B’s decision odd, as there clearly is a demand.

  2. Jojo says:

    Will,

    This is just my opinion but sometimes I want to be able to throw some stuff on a BBQ that’s similar to what everyone else is having or to use a mock meat product to make a cruelty free version of something I enjoyed as an omnivore. It’s not the taste of meat that most vegans object to but the cruelty & suffering behind it. As for mock meats being overly processed, well, for one I think a lot of meat products are just as processed but also I don’t really have a problem with eating some processed foods. They don’t make up the majority of my diet or anything but once in a while why not?!

    FGV in response to your actual post, god damn it! I’ll certainly be spreading the word & contacting H&B. I’m in the same boat as you & can buy Frys products at my local HFS store but for people in smaller towns this’ll suck big time & it makes veganism that little bit less accessible.

  3. efcliz says:

    I personally find Fry’s stuff too salty and far prefer Redwood products, but I like to have the choice, so I’ll definitely ask H+B about this. I think they still have them in my local health food shop though.

  4. Kip says:

    Boo to Holland and Barratt! They’ll be losing a lot of vegan business I reckon.

  5. Sami says:

    Emailed, I’m not the biggest H&B shopper but Fry’s are one of the few things for which I make the effort to go there for.

  6. chloe says:

    @ Will Vigar- dont forget not all people that eat vegan are created equal, the reason some people eat mock meat products is for health or maybe religious reasons so maybe in some cases the product looking and tasting as close to meat as possible is a bonus for them.
    I wrote H and B an email, dont know what good it will do and its such a shame they are stopping stocking Frys, as i wrote to them, its probably the single thing i went into their store expressly to buy but i never left without having brought god knows what else,.I dont know to what extent they will actually lose business but i certainly hope a lot of people will be voting with their dollars by NOT shopping there anymore, i deffinately wont be!

  7. Kelly says:

    I’ve just emailed too, I’m really hoping that they do reconsider this

  8. I run The Barn Vegan Guest House in the New Forest and we’ve had Fry’s sausages on our breakfast menu for several years. While some people opt not to have ‘mock meat’ everyone who tries them loves them. We’ve got to know Lisa and Pat at Beanies quite well over the years and they’ve told us how appallingly they have been treated by H&B. This latest twist is very bad news and I shall certainly be contacting H&B to tell them what I think. I think the Vegan Society should also get stuck in. Harrrumph!!

  9. angie wright says:

    I shall be boycotting H&B and have told them so. I have an independent HF store locally that I normally use., that will I hope continue to sell Fry’s. Sometimes I visit Eastbourne and pop into H&B for a sos roll , and provamel drink when hungry, and invariably buy other food items while there. Not any longer! Anyone who treats a vegan company badly is no friend of mine. We vegans must stick together and support each other. Those who have a choice please boycott H&B.

  10. Paul F says:

    H&B is seen as a “normal” shop as it is a large high street brand so whilst many vegans may seek out their local wholefood shops a lot of meat reducers and vegetarians may no longer get to try the Frys range any more.

    My thoughts why H&B might be doing this are:

    – H&B have never seemed to give the food side of the business much love, presumably their pills and potions have a much higher markup (wholefoods are notoriously low profit). My local branch regularly has fridges and freezers out of service for weeks or even months on end and I’ve also seen this at other branches. Most of the range seems 10 or 20 years behind the times with the notable exception of Frys and Redwoods

    – H&B have never engaged or reached out to the vegan community, they don’t seem to have any passion for finding the latest products and AFAIK have never attended any vegan events. I doubt they will care that they are dropping vegan products.

    – When I was chatting to Beanies at a vegan festival they seemed unhappy that the twice yearly H&B “buy one get one half price” events are funded by the wholesalers not H&B. If other vegans are like me and massively stock up on Frys during these promos it must seriously dent the profit margins for Beanys.

    – H&B like most high st brands dictate margins and payment terms and if the price doesn’t fit will just find someone else. It is easy to see how much of a discount supermarkets get on products such as Swedish Glace which can be 50% cheaper in Tesco compared to an independent wholefood shop. H&B were probably squeezing margins yet wholesale overheads are going up. Beanys stopped importing the wonderful B Nice Rice Cream as they couldn’t keep it at a sensible price, they probably don’t have the power to lock in pricing from Frys especially as they’ll be at the mercy of exchange rate fluctuations.

    What will the future be for H&B? Perhaps more Linda McCartney as they killed off the RealEat brand and wholefood independents are saying they can’t get LM products at a price to compete against the multiples. Alternatively they could look at doing an exclusive with Redwoods as H&B must be a large chunk of their market already, perhaps Redwoods could look to fill the gaps left by Frys with an exclusive H&B range?

  11. Christine says:

    I just emailed H&B and passed on a link to this page to others. Thanks for posting this news.

  12. Josh says:

    Have just sent them an email saying that if they don’t continue to stock Fry’s products I won’t be going into their stores anymore and will do my shopping from http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk

  13. Shaun Richardson says:

    Hi All, thanks for your support!

    Fry’s has no plans to pull out of the UK! We are going to make sure that Fry’s is always available! So thanks for the support, and we will keep you in the loop and let you know were you can buy Fry’s

    If you are stuck and want to know your closest shope please email : lisa (at) beanieshealthfoods.co.uk

    She will be sure to help you!!!!

    Thanks,

    Shaun Richardson
    Fry Group Foods

  14. Sal says:

    I am really sad to hear this, my nearest health food store that isn’t h&b is a 20 minute drive away. H&B’s vegan selection is pretty dire (at least in my local ones) anyway and now they’re cutting Frys too! RUBBISH.

  15. Sally says:

    I’ll send H&B an email too.
    I personally don’t eat any of the mock ‘meats’ but understand that some people would see not having these sorts of options as a turn off to going vegan – and we don’t want that! So I feel it is important that we keep as broad a range of food textures and products out there – healthy and not so healthy, so that nobody uses lack of choice as an excuse for not going vegan, because people will even though it really isn’t important on the grand scale of things.

  16. Nicky says:

    I have sent an email. If we don’t voice our opinions on this, then nothing can be changed.
    x

  17. Fairfoods says:

    I’ve sent an email too!
    Clare

  18. Fairfoods says:

    Looks like this has been resolved 🙂 See Beanies front page… http://www.beanieshealthfoods.co.uk/ “The hiccough regarding pricing of our FRY’S products with Holland & Barrett has been resolved and therefore Holland & Barrett will soon be stocking the full range of FRY’S products within their stores with freezers.”

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  23. GRicR says:

    I’m not a vegan, but my daughter and grand-kids are. If I am offered a meal at their place, with meat like slices, I am far more likely to enjoy the meal than I am one with any of the various grain products there are. Equally, if she is coming to my place and I’m shopping for ingredients, I am much more likely to shop where I can buy something that will suit me as well as buying what she and her family prefer. I’m not about to use two shops where one will serve.
    However, I usually shop on line and, not knowing any of the previous problems, I went straight to the H&B site. Nowhere could I find any meat lookalikes, so Beanies may find they still have problems..

  24. Vivien says:

    Just to let you know Ocado are doing these products and you can but them on line deliverer to your door.

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