Sweet as! Speciality honeys beyond Manuka

Everyone knows manuka honey is something special. But what about avocado or pohutukawa honeys? The aptly named Simon Sweetingham is out to convince fellow Kiwis that these, in their raw forms, can be just as exciting on the palate and potentially as health-enhancing as manuka.

Simon has recently launched four speciality honeys – avocado, pohutukawa, clover and wildflower – under his new ‘Beebro” brand, with a strong emphasis on their natural New Zealand origins and their raw, minimally-processed form. “They’re products for health conscious foodies … people who love honey and are ready for some new, more edgy flavours,” says Simon.

Based in Auckland’s eastern suburbs, Simon sources his honey from beekeepers around the upper North Island, and has it packaged and labelled (mainly in glass jars) in contracted commercial kitchens with as little disturbance to its natural state as possible. No creaming, no special temperature control processes and a long (four-year) shelf life. The beautifully-represented Beebro range can be purchased online and through an expanding range of health and speciality food shops in the Auckland region. Simon is gearing up also to supply the supermarket sector (and obviously, Beebro’s GS1 membership will support that next step.

He sees the new flavours, and whatever particular health attributes they might become associated with, as additions to manuka honey – that liquid gold which has captured consumers here and around the world in recent decades. “Manuka honey is obviously wonderful …I’m wanting to explore gaps in the market.”

In fact, Simon also sells manuka-based product under the beekeeper-owned brand, “Onuku”, which is promoted on its high UMF (unique manuka factor) rating and central North Island provenance. Beebro and its new products have grown out of a honey broking business, which Simon launched in 2017, first at the Howick Village Market. He has long since become an effective channel-to market, including online, for Onuku and other non-manuka brands “Cold Fern” and “Bee My Honey”.

“There are a lot of struggling beekeepers out there. They need someone to bundle their honey and to market it for them,” says Simon. And he is just the entrepreneur needed! Previous careers in tour guiding around New Zealand and consumer product sales have given Simon a detailed knowledge of the country and of retailing, and a nationwide network of friends and contacts.

“All our products are pure, natural and full of flavours from flowers that grow in beautiful parts of the country.”

And the new brand name? “Beebro just rolls off the tongue and its distinctively New Zealand where, of course, we also like to refer to good stuff as ‘sweet as’. Couldn’t be more appropriate for our great honeys.”

For more information, see www.beebro.co.nz