Hawaiian Host Group’s Ed Schultz is on a Mission to Rebrand the Macadamia Nut, S1E17

The East Coast native shares how the company’s pandemic survival strategy resulted in a new product – macadamia nut ice cream.
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Photo: Michelle Tan

Ed Schultz found his calling for food and beverage while working as an investment banker in New York. He launched two coffee companies before taking the helm of Hawaiian Host Group, the parent company of snack brands Hawaiian Host, Mauna Loa and KOHO.  

Hawaiian Host Group’s origins stretch back to 1929, and during the pandemic its survival strategy consisted of closing its LA office, reinvesting in its Hawai‘i operations and enhancing its workplace culture. But it also focused on branding and marketing.  

We want ideas from everywhere and then let us choose which ones we think as an organization help move us forward … and that can be from a manager on the manufacturing plant floor, that could be from the truck driver driving our product into retailers, they may have a better idea of how to do it.

“You really have to invest in your branding, not for today, but for the future,” he says.  

Hawaiian Host’s brand is about aloha, ohana and sharing. Its products are often gifts for visitors or treats for special occasions. Mauna Loa, on the other hand, should be about the person and how the macadamia nut makes them feel, Schultz says.   

“We really tried to take that and use that brand to democratize the macnut and let’s see how far we could push it across this country and around the world and help Hawai‘i agriculture,” he says.  

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