- Kind Healthy Snacks, the maker of fruit and nut bars, will be laying off 90 of its roughly 600 employees — about 15% of its workforce — before the end of the year, the company said in a statement provided to Food Dive.
- The job cuts will take place in the company's sales, marketing and accounts management departments.
- In the statement, Kind said the job cuts are the result of changes at the company designed to help it better manage key accounts, expand its retail coverage and attract new consumers to the brand.
The job cuts at Kind amount to a major change at a company that has been among the most successful in penetrating the fruit and nut bar space popular for snacking and on-the-go consumers.
To be sure, job cuts in the food and beverage industry are relatively frequent as companies constantly adjust their staffing needs in response to product demand, desire to streamline operations or efforts to reduce spending. Kellogg has been at the forefront of this trend with its Project K cost-cutting program. Nestlé also will dismiss 4,000 workers worldwide this year as it closes and consolidates plants in an effort to boot efficiency.
The fruit and nut bar manufacturer started producing its bars in 2004 by focusing on low sugar and high protein items with a simple list of recognizable ingredients such as dark chocolate almond and coconut and blueberry vanilla cashew.
The last few months have seen major changes at Kind. Mike Barkley, who joined Kind last fall as president and chief operating officer, took over as CEO in September. He replaced founder Daniel Lubetzky, who is now the company's executive chairman. Barkley is no stranger to the CPG space after previous stints at food and beverage companies including Pinnacle Foods, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo.
Last month, the company pulled its Fruit Bites, one of its only offerings that isn't in the bar or granola space, from store shelves. The children's snack line was launched in 2017 and made only with real fruit and no added sugar. However, it failed to resonate with children, who gravitated toward sweet, brightly colored treats. The three varieties are still sold online.
Barkley and Lubetzky have been making other big changes at Kind. Earlier this month, Kind acquired Creative Snacks, a better-for-you snack manufacturer based in North Carolina. This acquisition marks Kind’s first time broadening its product portfolio through M&A.
It's unclear if the layoffs are somehow tied to the decision to scale back Fruit Bites, the acquisition or growing competition in the bar market. There is no shortage of bars on the market for consumers to choose from, putting pressure on Kind and other market leaders to keep innovating. And Big Food is getting involved in the space. In the past few months, Hershey purchased protein bar maker One Brands for $397 million, and Mondelez International purchased a majority stake in Perfect Snacks, the manufacturer of organic, non-GMO, nut butter-based protein bars and bites.
As a 15-year old company, Kind is by no means an upstart and will constantly need to adjust is staffing to align with its operating needs as it grows and changes. As Barkley further entrenches himself in the C-suite, he will undoubtedly make changes to position Kind for future success, with job cuts one of the tools he has at his disposal.