Southwest Airlines is dedicated to championing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of our business. We are on a journey and we continue to evaluate our current practices, listen to feedback from our Employees and Customers, and look for ways to drive our inclusion journey forward.
Our Supplier Diversity program is one of the many ways we’re working hard to focus on equity. We asked Michelle Fourcand, Manager Enterprise Supply Chain Management for her thoughts on diverse suppliers. “It is important to have diverse suppliers and our Supplier Diversity program to cultivate inclusive procurement practices that drive competition, and help Southwest capture the most value at the lowest cost.”
This LGBTQ Pride Month, we’re excited to celebrate one of our LGBTQ-owned suppliers, King Nut.
“King Nut’s products have played a significant role in Southwest history—most notably the peanuts, but they were also responsible for our pretzels,” Michelle continued. “King Nut now supplies the Snack Mix served onboard, which launched in 2020. King Nut products mean Hospitality to our Customers. They signify a gesture of gratitude and help differentiate our onboard offering through Southwest-branded packaging.”
Marty Kanan, President and CEO of King Nut, shares, “King Nut has been honored to be Southwest’s snack supplier for the past 20 years since 2001. From peanuts to pretzels to the new snack mix that launched in 2020, we’ve been by Southwest’s side. The bags of peanuts we produced for Southwest were so iconic and so beloved by passengers and employees alike, that they’ve even been transformed into Halloween costumes. That’s showing your Spirit!”
Halloween costume made out of bags of peanuts.Halloween costume made out of bags of peanuts.
Marty continues, “Southwest is a favorite Customer of ours—almost family. It’s a pleasure to work with People so friendly and nice, who obviously both enjoy and are good at their jobs. We’ve enjoyed every step of the long-term relationship, from jointly designing each new snack and package through to seeing the smiles on Passengers’ faces when the Flight Attendant hands out the snacks.”
Southwest Flight Attendant Strategic Team visiting King Nut September 18, 2019Southwest Flight Attendant Strategic Team visiting King Nut September 18, 2019
“I’ve had the privilege of working with the King Nut family for years and am personally so grateful to have them as one of our valued suppliers,” said Sonya Lacore, Vice President Inflight Operations. “I’ve had the privilege to see firsthand how much they love and appreciate the partnership with Southwest Airlines and how much they value our Employees. I know our Flight Attendants take great pride in serving snacks that are produced by suppliers from all backgrounds and experiences. We are proud to work with King Nut, an LGBTQ-owned Company, and I am incredibly proud of the work our Supply Chain Department does to verify and work with diverse suppliers.”
Marty Kanan shared, “Supplier diversity is very important to us. As an LGBTQ-owned Company, we believe part of our mission is to help other diverse suppliers grow and succeed. Having a diverse supplier base strengthens the total supply chain and improves the quality of product available to all Customers.”
Marty Kanan, President and CEO of King NutMarty Kanan, President and CEO of King Nut
About King Nut
King Nut Company was founded in 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio, by Earl Balliette, his wife, Edna, and her brother—engineer and consultant—Mike Krempa. The company roasted and packaged fresh nuts for local taverns, restaurants, and grocery stores. In the early years, Earl ran the routes himself and was the mastermind of creating the route system for King Nut. Over the years, they established a route system where they had a fleet of small delivery trucks that delivered their goods.
Fast forward 84 years: staff has grown to 425 people, production and distribution has moved to a 400,000 square foot complex in Solon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, items supplied have expanded to include pretzels, snack mixes, dried fruit, and candy as well as nuts, and distribution has spread around the globe. King Nut today can produce over 750 million individual units of snacks per year and roast over 75 million pounds of nuts per year.
The Kanan family, Mike, Marty, and Matt, purchased King Nut from the original founders in 1989, when it had only 30 employees, and have grown the company to its present size and expanded into new markets, including airlines.
King Nut has a strong focus on environmental sustainability. Over the last decade it’s reduced its carbon footprint by 38% and reduced weight in its packaging by 3 million pounds, which would have ended up in landfills. King Nut recycles over 1 million pounds of materials per year.