Sanders Chocolates and Kar’s Nuts Select New Corporate Name, Add Innovation Center

Second Nature Brands products
Second Nature Brands is the new name of the company that encompasses Kar’s Nuts, Sanders Chocolates, and Second Nature Snacks. // Photo courtesy of Second Nature Brands

Second Nature Brands in Madison Heights is the new platform for Kar’s Nuts, Second Nature Snacks, and Sanders Chocolates. The brands had previously operated under the Kar’s Nuts corporate umbrella.

“Over more than 140 years, our heritage brands – Kar’s Nuts, Second Nature Snacks, and Sanders Chocolates – while all made in Michigan, have built a strong national reputation for making snacks and treats that people love,” says Victor Mehren, CEO of Second Nature Brands.

“These businesses have grown significantly over the last several years, and we see many opportunities for expanding our new platform both through brand innovation, strategic investments, and acquisitions.”

In addition, Second Nature Brands has begun construction of a new innovation center that will feature a recipe development lab and consumer testing facility. Located in Sanders Chocolates Clinton Township facility, the center will allow Second Nature Brands to engage consumers and collaborate with customer partners to develop new products that fulfill emerging market needs.

This year, the company said it will bring to market more than 25 new better-for-you products from its Second Nature Snacks and Sanders Chocolates brands in partnership with retailers and through the brands’ direct-to-consumer e-commerce channels. Second Nature offers gluten-free, non-GMO trail mixes.

The snacks, which are designed for healthy snacking as well as indulgence, will include Second Nature Smart Mixes, Sanders Organic Dairy-Free Sea Salt Caramels, and Sanders Sea Salt Caramel Thins.

Kar’s Nuts will also roll out a new line of savory mixes in March, expand its retail reach, and enhance its online sales. In addition, the company will be launching several community programs and environmental initiatives focused on replenishing natural resources.

“We are investing over 50 percent of our resources towards innovation, new product development, and production infrastructure, which will significantly increase our capacity in the coming years,” says Mehren. “Even as we expect continued growth on our core product lines, including Detroit classics like Sanders Bumpy Cakes and dessert toppings and Kar’s Sweet and Salty mix, we are investing heavily in exciting new products and formulations, which we expect to account for a significant amount of revenues in the coming years.”

The company has also appointed Edmond Sanctis as its new chairman of the board of directors. He brings more than 20 years of experience in high-growth businesses and culinary innovations. He was the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Sahale Snacks, a company that was acquired by the J.M. Smucker Co. in August 2014. Sanctis is currently a partner at Reason Venture Partners.

To better meet the company’s demand for its products online, the company has added Keira Krausz, chief marketing officer of HPOne, to its board of directors. She will support the company’s digital growth initiatives. She was previously chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Nutrisystem.

Second Nature Brands is a leading creator of snacks and treats. It operates factories in Madison Heights and Clinton Township, along with retail stores in Clinton Township and Rochester. It employs more than 350 people.