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Where are they now? Catch up with 2016 NEXTY Award Winner Karma Nuts

Karma Nuts karma nuts product line
It’s been five years since Karma Nuts broke onto the scene with a NEXTY Award win. Here, founder Ganesh Nair talks growth, community and pivoting to direct-to-consumer during the pandemic.

Back in 2016, when Karma Nuts won the “Best New Snack” NEXTY Award for its Wrapped cashew (a crunchy cashew presented with the skin on to boost flavor and nutrition), the brand had three SKUs and was sold in fewer than 150 independent and natural stores. It didn’t have representation with brokers in most areas of the U.S.

Fast-forward five years, and the story is quite different. Karma Nuts is found in thousands of retail stores across the country as well as major e-commerce outlets, and has even graced two official GRAMMY gift bags. Below, New Hope Network chats with founder Ganesh Nair about the brand’s astronomical growth since its NEXTY win and where it plans to go from here.

What are some major milestones Karma Nuts has reached since its NEXTY Award win?

Ganesh Nair: Karma Nuts has seen consistent year-over-year growth over the past five years and is now available in around 2,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. We are also a brand partner at major e-commerce retailers like Thrive Market and Bloomingdale's, and have participated in numerous community events around the country.

Our variety packs and jars have been featured in two official GRAMMY gift bags, the 2021 “Everybody Wins” Oscar Nominees swag bag and picked up by E! News. We have seen fantastic press coverage in publications from Men's Health to Shape to Forbes and received the Good Housekeeping Award for best savory snack in 2020. We also added three new delicious flavors to our lineup—Cocoa Dusted, Sweet Matcha and Golden Turmeric—to help further our flavor-forward promise.

What do you think helped Karma Nuts reach these milestones?

GN: Karma Nuts has an amazing community—whether that be team members, fans, customers or retail partners—that trusts the brand. The NEXTY Award for our original Wrapped cashews was a critical part of building the credibility for our brand to enable this journey. We have been able to work with amazing partners to build the brand alongside us, including Green Spoon brokers, Springdale Ventures, the SKU accelerator network out of Austin and many other individuals and groups. 

ganesh nexty award best new snack 2016 karma nutsWe are on a mission to put goodness out into the world, and people have really responded to that in a very positive way.

What has Karma Nuts been focused on most recently?

GN: Like most brands in 2020, we've been very focused on optimizing our direct-to-consumer business. The tumult of 2020 pushed a lot of brands online, and we were fortunate in that we already had great direct-to-consumer partners in place and were able to invest in the channel. We also doubled down on our efforts for our branded site, as we saw this as a great opportunity to bring new customers in the door and really learn from them. There is no better focus group than your own customers, and those folks who were trying new brands in the past year really wanted to be helpful. 

Retailers also got a little more creative with their digital-to-IRL programs, and we were able to participate in some of their unique offerings, such as sampling programs for online pickup customers. As the world starts to open up once again, we are shifting some of our attention back to brick and mortar and finding better ways to serve our existing accounts, as well as discovering solid data to bring to the table to open up new ones.

What does the next five years hold for Karma Nuts?

GN: We continue to be guided by our founding goal of bringing healthier, less processed and more flavorful versions of nut-based products to the market. Our product pipeline is steadfastly vegan, eschewing GMO products, and we continue to invest in a more sustainable, ethical supply chain.

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