Changing It Up At Hawaiian Host

Jan 31, 2020

A new round of change is coming to a familiar local company: Hawaiian Host. CEO Edward Schultz is taking the company into a major rebranding — and some product innovation.

After 10 years leading Honolulu Coffee Company through growth and rebranding, Edward Schultz joined Hawaiian Host in 2018 as president, and added the CEO title in January. Arguably he could have the easiest job in local manufacturing. Hawaiian Host acquired Mauna Loa in 2015 and the combined brands are selling about 150 million dollars of chocolate mac nuts and related treats in hundreds of retail stores around the world. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the brands, except that they haven’t changed.

According to recently retired CEO Keith Sakamoto, Hawaiian Host brought in Schultz for his expertise in change. Schultz finds inspiration in Gustav Mahler, who once wrote, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

The company will debut its rebranding of Mauna Loa in March at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim. That line will expand beyond mac nuts to a range of plant-based health treats for everyday living.

Hawaiian Host, meanwhile, will be positioned as more social, sharable treats. It will be adding chocolate varieties and flavors like toasted coconut and matcha, as well as a high-end line, and new products with partners such as Uncle’s Ice Cream.

The parent company has rebranded as Hawaiian Host Group, with a new website being rolled out in March. A big part of Schultz’s job is to make sure the company’s 470 employees, most in Hawaii but also in LA, Tokyo and Singapore for distribution, are all rowing toward the change in the same direction.