Southern NZ honey to create buzz in UK

British health food consumers will soon have greater access to New Zealand Honey Specialties’s products, with the news that they are to be stocked in the UK’s largest health food retailer — Holland and Barrett.

This follows recognition by Holland and Barrett of the health benefits of the antioxidant properties of the honey.

Four of the Otago-based company’s honeys will be stocked in the chain’s 430 stores, meaning they will now be stocked in over 1000 high-end supermarkets and health stores across the UK, including Holland and Barrett, Waitrose and Morrisons.

The selected products, branded “NZ Honey Co”, are based on South Island honeys that contain record levels of antioxidants — each 340g jar can contain the same antioxidants as 100 cups of green tea. The claims are supported by research out of Waikato University’s Honey Research Unit.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) regional manager for Otago and Southland, Alan Richardson, said the company is providing an excellent example of how NZ companies can break out of a commodity cycle.

“I applaud the success of New Zealand Honey Specialties. They are an example and an inspiration for other food producers who want to break out of commodity sales.

“They have been able to do this by capitalising on the quality and absolute purity of their product and an ability to back up their claims.”

With up to 50% of South Island honey exported as a bulk commodity, general manager, Chris McElroy, said the company had a clear strategy from the outset — to develop a strongly consumer branded honey business and then transform this strong honey brand into a health business.

“We saw the potential in selling NZ’s fantastic honey products as health products because of their intrinsic health properties,” said McElroy.

The company has achieved a lot in only two years and even McElroy says they are surprised at how quickly the retail market has developed.

“Our first 12 months were essentially devoted to market research. NZTE was central to that exploration phase. Without the contacts they generated and the work of the Trade Commissioners in the UK and Hong Kong we wouldn’t have made any progress.

“NZTE open doors for small companies with limited resource and they gave us access to great people.”

New Zealand Honey Specialties has steadily increased the number of stores and lines stocked in the UK. Product is also stocked in 120 supermarkets in Hong Kong and an agreement has been signed to launch into top-end department stores in China during December.

McElroy sees further expansion in the future. “With the global trend to natural healthy products, many people are willing to pay a premium. Honey is a perfect fit and NZ is a world leader in developing unique and value-added products. We are very excited about how things develop from here.”

New Zealand Honey Specialties produce a range of honeys including Manuka as well as drinks that blend honey with fruit and cider vinegar.

The honeys will be available in NZ supermarkets and health stores from November.

The company remains principally owned by beekeepers.

Send this to a friend