Mark, when did you start with Naturally Smart?
Naturally Smart Frozen Dessert was just an idea created and tested in a small commercial kitchen in Jacksonville, Florida (US). Once I had the full concept (high protein content, taste, gluten free & lower fat) we went into full production in November 2013 with the help of a team of Food Scientists.
You wanted to create something different? Not just another ice cream product?
“Ice Cream” was the focus – I just wanted a”Better for You” high protein version that had a superior taste profile compared to what was currently available. Increased protein allowed me to reduce the fat and sugar content. Keeping a very clean ingredient list (No Artificial Sweeteners or Flavors) has helped us to distribute throughout the Natural Foods world.
Why do you think Naturally Smart is such a hit in Florida?
I could not have asked for a better place to start Naturally Smart. Jacksonville and all of Florida love to support local companies. Florida is known for its beaches and healthy lifestyles and Naturally Smart is a perfect fit. This was stepping stone for national and international distribution channels.
What flavor is your personal favorite? Why?
Currently Naturally Smart has 5 delicious flavors (Fair trade Chocolate, Vanilla, Coconut, Coffee and Green Tea) they all were selected by me. I have a very personal relationship with ice cream and these flavors all represent my favorite flavor at different points of time in my life. As for my favorite it is the “next one”. We have a great team selecting our next flavor(s).
Isn’t the market of natural products saturated ?
Natural products are not a fad – there is a global demand throughout the food industry. Health and Wellness is the main driver of the constant growth in the Natural food industry. Naturally Smart fills a void in the ice cream aisle (high protein, gluten free and great taste) and we project increased success domestically and internationally.
Where are you selling ? Nationwide ?
Naturally Smart is available in Regional retail accounts (Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, Earth Fare…), Independent retailers, Golf Courses, Hotels, Weight Loss clinics and Hospitals. In 2017 we are projecting substantial growth through North America.
Do You export ?
In early 2016 we started exporting to Bahrain and Naturally Smart is now available in select Alosora Supermarkets. As we gain support throughout the region we plan on expanding our footprint throughout the Middle East. I am also working on some exciting opportunities in Asia (Japan & Korea) and Canada
What are the plans for the near future ?
Our complete focus is on growing our distribution channels and expanding our product lines (flavors, sizes & novelties) while maintaining our high standards of quality and customer service.
What goes into the process of creating and choosing flavors for your products ? Do you have employees who are specifically hired to be “natural Products “designers”?
Flavors are very important and personal to me. We base our decisions on customer and industry input. Once we decide on what we are going to create next we look for the best supplier who can meet our high expectations for quality and taste.
What are some of the benefits and challenges to starting off as a small business owner?
I have surrounded myself with many resources to get where we are today. The Natural food industry is very competitive and the ice cream world is another challenge in itself. Naturally Smart Foods has a deep pool of advisors and industry experts that work with us on a daily basis. We have positioned ourselves to be very reactive and as small business we can pivot when necessary.
What are your hopes for your company in the future ?
Naturally Smart Foods is my passion and success is the only future I work for. Create a prosperous company that offers “better for you” products and stays on our mission for excellent customer service is our goal. Growth and expansion will have it demands and we want to be prepared.