Upon establishing the company in 1918, Perry’s Ice Cream founder H. Morton Perry gave the company very specific orders to “make sure you put in enough of the good stuff.” Now, 105 years later, the company remains true to that commitment.
Akron, NY-based Perry’s Ice Cream is a well-established brand that has been a beloved choice in Upstate New York and the Great Lakes region for decades.
Perry’s remains a family-owned and operated business led by the fourth generation of the Perry family. Robert Denning currently serves as president and chief executive officer. Denning is the son-in-law of Thomas Perry, H. Morton Perry’s grandson, who previously served as president and CEO. Brian Perry, Thomas’s son, is the current senior vice president and chairman, while Thomas’s daughter, Gayle Perry Denning, Robert’s wife, serves as vice president of sustainability and strategic branding.
Over the years, Perry’s has grown and diversified its business model, focusing on key business pillars such as traditional manufacturing and markets, an extensive distribution network and global contract manufacturing.
Perry’s is known for manufacturing and marketing its own branded ice cream products, and a core aspect of its business ensures that consumers can enjoy high-quality ice cream made to Perry’s exacting standards. Perry’s has also developed an extensive distribution system that covers a vast area, spanning over 100,000 square miles. This ensures that its products are readily available to consumers in a wide geographic area, contributing to its popularity and accessibility. In addition to its branded products, Perry’s is also involved in contract manufacturing, supplying its ice cream to a variety of national brands, highlighting its expertise in producing ice cream.
Perry’s Ice Cream takes pride in its commitment to using fresh, local, and high-quality milk and cream to craft its ice cream. The ice cream maker’s slow-cooking process is a key factor in achieving an exceptionally creamy texture and taste, which has garnered the love and loyalty of consumers for more than a century.
While Perry’s Ice Cream is rooted in Upstate New York, it has expanded its reach beyond the region. Perry’s produced 11.4 million gallons of ice cream in 2022 and its products can be found not only in Upstate New York, but also New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. This widespread availability demonstrates the brand’s success in reaching a broader market while maintaining its commitment to quality and tradition.
The novelty of it all
Nichole Buryta, senior brand manager for Perry’s, said that in today’s marketplace there are many exciting and positive ice cream trends, particularly in the novelty segment.
“Novelties continue to outpace growth of the overall ice cream category and are the fastest-growing ice cream subcategory with a predicted CAGR of 13%,” she said. “Novelties satisfy consumer trends in convenience and portion control.”
Buryta said consumers value factors such as indulgence, flavor innovation and sustainability within today’s ice cream marketplace.
“While ice cream is an inherently indulgent product, consumers are looking for elevated indulgent experiences such as super premium formulas, different textures and sensorial aspects, and new formats,” she said.
Consumers also want new flavor experiences and desire twists on nostalgia. Thirty-eight percent of US adults aged 18 to 34 say they go out of their way to try new flavors, and 71% of US consumers enjoy things that remind them of their past, Buryta said.
Today’s consumers are also extremely ESG (environmental, social, and governance) conscious.
“Perry’s proudly partners with sports brands like the Buffalo Bills and Sabres and most recently, Ohio State Athletics, on co-branded flavors that dedicate a portion of the proceeds to community programs,” Buryta said.
Perry’s offers many package sizes in a variety of products — premium ice cream, super premium ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, frozen yogurt, no sugar added and non-dairy.
Perry’s new product development model centers around a cross functional team that includes marketing, R&D, sales, purchasing and manufacturing, Buryta said.
“New flavor inspiration comes from a variety of places — food trends, suppliers, customers, team members and the community,” she said. “At Perry’s, we start with the consumer in mind when developing new flavors or innovative new products.”
Earlier this year, Perry’s launched a reimagined extra-indulgent pint line. This new rich, creamy, chuck-full-of-stuff recipe is bringing heightened luxury to beloved consumer favorites. Perry’s full lineup includes 13 extra-indulgent ice cream flavors and one unique sherbet.
The ice cream maker increased the butterfat and density, resulting in an extra indulgent experience of creamy richness. “The increased butterfat makes for a smoother, creamier, more indulgent ice cream,” Buryta said.
What’s more, Perry’s latest innovation is perfectly portioned, exceptionally indulgent ice cream bars.
“With premium offerings being a leading motivator for consumers to buy more frozen treats, these single-serve indulgences meet consumer trends in snacking, portion control and convenience, while providing a luxury experience with each bite,” Buryta said. “These bars are crafted with a decadent, super premium formula and modeled after Perry’s signature, one-of-a-kind flavors.”
Extra Indulgent 4 Pack Ice Cream Bars, which will be available to ship in 2024, include Bittersweet Sinphony, Brownie Batter, Deep Sea Treasure, Let’s Dough Buffalo!, and Panda Paws.
In addition to consistent quality, Perry’s is known for its variety of flavors and innovation in flavor development.
“Perry’s 2023 retail innovations in the 1.5-quart premium ice cream line were developed to meet consumer trends and add unique offerings. Perry’s is known for bringing exciting, indulgent flavors to the category every year. With the consumer trend of wanting texture, we focused on that element with each new flavor,” Buryta said. “Additionally, we spend the time to slow-cook our ice cream, producing a creamier, richer and better-tasting product.”
Manufacturing and operations
Supplier innovation and production investment have helped Perry’s with efficiency and bringing unique products to market.
In fact, Brad Nasca, director of supply chain and contract sales, said the company has partnered with Food Tech, a leader in food manufacturing plant construction.
“With this partnership, we developed a multi-year plan to expand our overall manufacturing and distribution capabilities,” he said.
Perry’s is also investing $18 million in a 20,000-square-foot expansion and purchase of a state-of-the-art extruded stick bar line from Tetra Pak of Denmark, Nasca continued.
“This new extruded novelty production will launch the company into this growing category of sales,” he said.
Included in the investment, Nasca said, is an automated case packing system designed by CT Pack of Italy.
“The system includes robotic picking, auto-packing and wrap-around corrugated case packing functions,” he said. “This new line will be capable of manufacturing stick novelty varieties including ice cream, fudge, yogurt and more.”
When it comes to overcoming production challenges, Nasca said Perry’s operations team reviews information from data management system Redzone daily to assess problems, address root causes and implement preventative measures.
“Processes are documented to ensure consistency across all shifts,” he said. “Redzone is used to measure OEE, lost hours and to communicate with team members at all levels of the operation.”
Nasca said the company has used Redzone’s quality module to transition to nearly all paperless quality and compliance processes.
“As a result, the company maintains an excellent SQF rating status,” he said. “Redzone is utilized to communicate a consistent message and implement education tools throughout the production operation.”
When it comes to sustainability, Perry’s is continually working toward a long term goal of being recognized as a “zero landfill” operation and maximizing the value of its resources through improved efficiencies, productivity and utilization of technology.
Such efforts include using 75% clean, renewable hydroelectricity to power the Akron, NY, facility, a 75% reduction in waste sent to landfills since 2010 and new LED fixtures, which saves 230,000 kWh annually.
In terms of company culture, Perry’s employs 145 team members and the key to the company’s continued success is attributed to dedicated people across the organization that bring their “good stuff” every day to delight Perry’s customers and consumers.
“Contributing to that success are consistent processes and process improvement initiatives that reliably deliver quality products again and again,” Nasca said. “At Perry’s there is a wealth and legacy of ice cream making experience. The knowledge that goes into the manufacturing and development of products is an asset to our brand and contract customers.”
Aside from making ice cream, Perry’s is a wholesale ice cream supplier, frozen foods distributor and contract manufacturer.
When asked what Perry’s looks for in a contract manufacturing partner, Nasca said the best partnerships involve three things — people, product and brands.
“We believe that with these three things working in unison the partnership is destined for success,” he said. “At Perry’s we also take great pride in our ability to innovate and value partners who look to continue to push the industry forward.”
Specifically, Perry’s has success with some major industry brand owners.
“Not only have we helped companies launch frozen products as a new brand segment in their business, but we have also helped startups build their business with our company as a stable backbone and resource for development,” Nasca said.
Perry’s provides a wide array of solutions to its partners. The company currently provides products in pints, Sqrounds (48 oz), quarts, half gallons, bulk options (2.5 and 3 gallons), molded novelties, sandwiches, extruded novelties (forthcoming) and 1-gallon soft serve.
The investments Perry’s has recently made will significantly benefit its contract manufacturing partners, Nasca said.
“With the new extruded line being finalized and starting up in Q4 of 2023, we are going to be able to provide the newest and most cutting-edge novelty capabilities,” he said. “This line is highly automated and provides a higher throughput than most manufacturing lines in the industry.”
Based on current market trends, Nasca said this line will provide the opportunity to meet consumers where they are.
“It will play on major trends such as portion control, grab-and-go, indulgence and premiumization,” Nasca said. “And we are always looking for the next great opportunity to innovate.”