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Meet Jud Horner of Incredible Foods, Chief Marketing Officer of the perfectlyfree® brand in Hyde Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jud Horner.

Let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
The perfectlyfree® brand is committed to creating delicious “Big 8 Allergy-Friendly™” foods for everyone who desires a fuller, happier, healthier, free-from lifestyle. Our journey as a company dedicated to developing allergy-friendly foods for the more than 15 million Americans who suffer from food allergies was a bit more circuitous than that of some other companies in the category. While several other companies that develop allergy-friendly products were founded by owners who suffer from food allergies or intolerances or have children who suffer, our journey was not as straightforward. I think that among the things that differentiate us is we’re not only a food company but also a technology company. In fact, it’s the company’s patented food encapsulation technology, developed by our founder, which inspired the idea of creating “smart nutrition” – that is also allergy-friendly — like that found in our perfectly free products.

Today, our products are available to consumers in more than 4,000 supermarkets, convenience stores and health and wellness stores throughout the northeast, portions of the southeast and as far west as Chicago. Our Boston, and Massachusetts locations, include Shaws, Stop & Shop, Star Markets, Market Basket and Hannaford, among others. And as a result of businesses, colleges and universities becoming more and more sensitized to the fact that many members of their communities suffer from food allergies or food intolerances, our products are increasingly in demand in dining halls and lunchrooms. We’re excited that our distribution channels continue to expand. In addition, we’re proud to be an active participant in the food allergy community. And not only as a developer of allergy-friendly products, as we also work hard to help generate food-allergy awareness and donations through various non-profits like Food Allergy Research and Education and the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
From day one our goal has been to create new foods that are delicious, convenient, fun, healthy and safe for the food allergy community, and for consumers who are active and health-conscious. For too many years, consumers with food allergies were forced to fend for themselves if they wanted safe and healthier snacks and treats. Preparing these from scratch can be time consuming and expensive, and it takes the consumer away from things in life they’d rather be doing. That’s where we come in. So, one of the challenges in creating “better for you” foods is ensuring that they also taste great. Historically, many of the so-called “healthy-ish” snacks didn’t deliver the great taste associated with many traditional treats. The on-going challenge for the perfectlyfree® brand, and to be honest for any brand in the category, is to consistently work on ways to improve the flavor of our products. Our customers tell us we’re doing a pretty good job!

Please tell us about Incredible Foods, owner of the perfectlyfree® brand.
We’re in the business of enhancing the lives of consumers who suffer from food allergies. We’re fond of saying that we “put the fun back in the freezer of food allergy sufferers.” Ninety-percent of all food allergy sufferers are allergic to one or more of the top eight food allergens: dairy, wheat (gluten), soy, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and peanuts. Our frozen bites and pints of perfectly free frozen desserts are free of these top eight allergens. Our future products, which will include our first-ever refrigerated treat, will also be “Big 8 Allergy-Friendly™”. We specialize in catering to consumers with food allergies, consumers who have been largely ignored by food brands. With that said, one of the things that sets us apart from other brands in the food allergy market is we’re seeing more and more consumers who don’t have food allergies enjoying our products as well. These are consumers who don’t want to deprive themselves of a treat from time-to-time but are making healthier choices even when it comes to snacking.

As for the products, our perfectly free frozen bites come wrapped in seven different coatings. The cocoa, salted caramel, cherry, blueberry, and orange crème bites consist of a creamy vanilla core. The raspberry chocolate and mint chocolate bites have a delicious chocolate core. They are also certified gluten-free, vegan and kosher, at 30 calories or less per serving. Our newer perfectly free pints of frozen dessert is available in three flavors – strawberry sundae, caramel café and fudge swirl. All products are produced in a dedicated, state of the art facility in Boston that is free from all major food allergens, and made with non-genetically modified ingredients.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We would’ve looked to launch more flavors and continue to give this food-allergy consumer more variety. When we launched, we had four flavors in the market for about a year in a half, thinking it’d take a while for consumers to yearn for more flavors. But with the recent launch of three new flavors – Mint Chocolate, Raspberry Chocolate, and Orange Crème – consumers have literally eaten them up! Mint Chocolate has become our number one selling flavor at one of our top retailers, and its only been on the shelf for a month! In the end, it makes sense – the food allergy consumer has not only had limited food options, but limited variety of those food options. They are ready, willing, and able to try any new flavor we put in front of them. And because of this, we already have four more flavors in our pipeline, just waiting for the chance to get on the shelf!

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