Made in New England: Meet Kristen Enright of perfectlyfree
With allergies on the rise, perfectlyfree is on a mission to create plant-based, allergy-friendly frozen treats and fruit bites free from “the Big 8” most common food allergens, (including peanuts, soy, milk, eggs and wheat). We got to chat with Manager of Product Development Kristen Enright to discuss clean labeling, educating parents, and how the company was able to think outside the “ice cream” box during recipe development.
R.K.: What is your role at perfectlyfree?
K.E.: I work in the Research and Development lab as manager of product development. I create new products from conceptual ideas to prototypes to fully optimized and tested formulations. I love to make delicious, creative flavors while also targeting specific health claims!
R.K.: Encouraging people to live happy, healthier lives while having fun is important to you. What do you do to spread this message to your community?
K.E.: I love telling parents about our perfectlyfree™ fruit bites! They are a perfect snack to throw in your bag while taking your kids out on adventures.
Fresh fruit is messy, takes time to prep and browns so quickly, that lots of parents prefer to travel with pretzels and other dry snacks. Our fruit bites come in bite size pieces, are portioned in individual pouches, and are allergen free so you can bring them anywhere. Other parents are always curious what we’re snacking on, and kids are eager to try them because of their bright colors and fun shape.
R.K.: Everything you make is plant-based, allergy-friendly and low in sugar. How do you stick to these values and go about sourcing ingredients?
K.E.: Ingredients are so important to me as both a health-conscious person and a mother. I taste-test products all day long, so I only formulate with ingredients that I feel comfortable eating. I also bring home products for my kids to eat, so I always keep them in mind. Luckily, much of the food industry is gravitating toward plant-based, clean-label ingredients, so there are a lot of options out there!
R.K.: What did you have to learn the hard way while first developing the recipes for perfectlyfree treats? Any particular challenges along the way?
K.E.: The biggest challenge has been making an ice cream alternative without eggs and full-fat dairy products. Luckily, we have a great team of scientists who were able to think outside the traditional “ice cream” box and turn coconut cream into a delicious, fluffy, creamy ice cream base.
R.K.: What has the perception of the products been in the New England area? Do you think there are any benefits launching here?
K.E.: New England is all about pride. People love to support local companies and eat products that are both invented and manufactured nearby. Also, Boston is full of young students who love trying the latest healthy food trends! Everyone is always busy and on the go, and our perfectlyfree™ products help fuel these busy lifestyles.
R.K.: What other local brands are you a fan of?
R.K.: Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to the food industry?
K.E.: The food at Clover, a local, fast-casual restaurant and food truck, is always inspiring! They change their menu regularly based on seasonal ingredients, and always make vegetables the star of the show. Their food is packed with flavor and always makes you feel good.
R.K.: Are you currently working on developing anything exciting for perfectlyfree™ treats?
K.E.: Yes! We are about to launch a new product, Yo-Berries. Yo-Berries are a poppable version of yogurt smoothies made with real fruit puree and our own non-dairy yogurt. They deliver the same health benefits as yogurt including calcium, vitamin D, probiotics and protein. As poppable bites, they are mess free and don’t require a spoon! Perfect for on the go, and like all of our products, school-safe.
R.K.: What advice would you give someone who might be interested in a job working in the food industry?
K.E.: Find a company that makes products you love, because you’ll be eating them all day!
R.K.: At WELL, we believe wellness comes in all forms. What does wellness look like for you?
K.E.: To me, wellness is all about moderation and balance, and incorporating healthy choices into your everyday life. With my family, that means walking to the park instead of driving, and always getting outside on a sunny day.
When it comes to food, sometimes I want a big crunchy salad, and sometimes I want delicious ice cream with all of the toppings. I believe it’s important to enjoy a little bit of everything.
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