Deal to stock retail giant with canned chicken feet – The Star

By The Star Newspaper

Despite the tragedy of losing his co-founder, grandfather and mentor, a 26-year-old entrepreneur has landed a deal to supply canned chicken feet and necks to Shoprite.

Tin Stuf, a Limpopo-based canning company, is selling canned chicken feet and necks at Shoprite stores around the country.

The business is the innovation of 26-year-old Eiren Drake and his late grandfather Spencer Drake, and the two began constructing a canning plant in Tzaneen in 2017 and launched it amid the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Drake said the idea of canning chicken feet and necks comes from his upbringing in rural Limpopo.

“As a young boy, I spent a significant amount of time with my late grandfather's employees, whose children were my friends and playmates. It was then that I was first introduced to the widely loved and consumed dish of chicken feet, which very quickly became one of my favourite meals - and it still is today!” he said.

He added that he spent time learning about the food and cultures he grew up around but was also aware of how many struggled to access good quality protein. Tin Stuf’s solution was to can chicken necks and feet, sometimes called walkie talkies.

Among the employees of the company are several of Drake’s friends who introduced him to the dishes as a young child.

“Today, they are the very people behind our innovation to develop a new product concept and our inspiration to follow through and attempt to launch it,” he said.

Drake’s journey to his point to selling the canned chicken feet and necks at Shoprite stores was however not easy as his grandfather and co-founder died in November 2020.

“The unexpected passing of my business partner, investor, life coach, mentor, and beloved grandfather was, and has since been, by far the most difficult challenge that I've had to mitigate,” he said.

Fortunately in February this year, Drake’s luck turned around as he was approached by the Shoprite Group and agreed on a three-year exclusive deal to supply the retailer.

“As a small business owner and my very first engagement with formal retail in the corporate space, it has been an absolute honour and great privilege to work under the guidance of the Shoprite team,” said Drake.

“They haven’t just had a significant impact on the future of our small business, but rather, Shoprite has become the future on which the existence of our business is now based.”