Episode 45 | How Karma Nuts Created a Category-Leading Brand Out of a Commodity,

with Karma Nuts CEO and founder Ganesh Nair

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Can you turn a commodity into a brand? How do you take something familiar, and build a story around it? How do you make something old new again?

Karma Nuts is doing exactly that. Founder and CEO Ganesh Nair has brought innovation and brand building to the common cashew.

The innovation is so simple, it’s genius. Karma Nuts are wrapped, meaning they are presented with the skin on, which increases the flavor and provides as much antioxidants as blueberries and other superfoods.

We’ve seen this sort of innovation happen a few times with almonds, and to a lesser extent macadamia nuts, but never before in cashews, despite their popularity as a stand alone snack.

Why has this been so difficult? Part of the reason is the supply chain. Unlike many other popular nuts, cashews aren’t grown in the U.S. – or even in the West for that matter. Virtually all of the cashew production takes place in the developing world, especially in India. Most of these are small, family run farms, and the supply chain is a collection of these smaller growers. The cashew industry lacks the monolithic, industrialized agribusinesses who are responsible for so much of the nut production – and brand and product creation – in the States.

It helps that Ganesh is also the CEO of Wenders Food and Western India Cashew Co, an 85 year old family-owned business.

Ganesh joined us this week to help us understand the ins and outs of this challenge, as well as talk to us about competitive moats, optimism, and why how much feedback you need before you can really invest in a brand building exercise like this.

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Brand Builder is a co-production of SnackNation and ForceBrands.