A portable solution to traditional ventilated fryers ensures healthier food and a safer environment for employees, with guaranteed hygiene for consumer peace of mind, with new investment by FNB’s Vumela Fund is set to drive local production and market penetration.
On 12 April 2021, Kombo King announced the launch of its innovative and patented deep-fryer technology to retailers, after successfully securing funding from the Vumela Fund, established by FNB and Edge Growth. Having already implemented the roll-out of Kombo King fryers at Pick n Pay, King Pie and Engen’s new convenience concept store, this hygienic, ventless product is set for wider market roll-out.
Born from a long and successful partnership between entrepreneurs Zitulele KK Combi and Ari Jacobson, Kombo King’s original ventless and odourless deep-frying products are designed, patented and manufactured in South Africa. Kombo King ranks 9th in its classification field for applied patents across Europe and the US. Kombo King stands out as a strong innovation-driving presence in South Africa, with the vast majority of patent applications originating from US and European manufacturers.
With hygiene protocols top-of-mind more than ever, corporates and consumers have a greater hygiene guarantee expectation. And this is as applicable to convenience foods as it is to hand sanitiser at the entrance to every establishment.
This is a factor that drove pre-Covid conversations with major retailers, alongside the other benefits such as less oil, and faster cooking.
After selling one of Cape Town’s most successful entrepreneurial ventures, Master Currency, to Bidvest in 2007, the pair reunited with the launch of a R1-billion listed property fund in 2011. Fast forward, and the pair saw a gap in the market for quick, consistent and healthy fried food after a trip to China by Combi. The result, Kombo King fryers, already proven through various blue-chip clientele, is set to expand further into the retail sector with its automated solution that can fry pre-packaged, par-cooked or fresh meals without needing expensive ventilation infrastructure to remove odours.
Say founders Combi and Jacobson: “Kombo King fryers were developed in response to the growing demand for convenience foods at an affordable price point, but that does not compromise on quality.
“Fried food as a staple in South Africa with healthy options are few and far between. Our technology requires no extraction, has the added element of speed and uses reduced oil so the end product is both healthy and convenient without compromising on taste.”
Additionally, the portable product eliminates high fixed costs for retailers by using single-phase electricity, with savings of 60% on operational costs and 57% on electrical costs when compared to traditional fryers. The closed, automated system also adds a safety measure for employees operating the product, decreasing exposure to hot oil as well as the need for extensive training. Automated recipes ensure all foods are consistent in quality and taste, while the breakeven rate for retailers is 10 x packets of fried chips a day.
The numerous health and safety benefits of the Kombo King products, as well as the fact that it is designed and manufactured locally, drove the decision to invest for Vumela and Edge Growth. The investment company, which is South Africa’s leading provider of alternative strategy investment products, says Kombo King’s aspirations clearly falls within President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision to strengthen the economy through local products, announced in the president’s address at the 9th Annual Proudly South African Buy Local Summit and Expo on Tuesday, 9 March.
Vuyiswa Nzimande, Principal at Edge Growth and lead dealmaker explains, “Consumer-centric product offerings are key to attracting customers in a highly competitive convenience food market. We view Kombo King fryers as an enabler to its clients to differentiate themselves in terms of quality, consistency and speed of service while increasing the client’s value proposition.”
Convenient, affordable and healthy food has never tasted better! And this longstanding partnership has Kombo King poised for success.