Bay of Plenty honey storage facility Mānuka Orchard has been on a steep learning curve since opening their facility to beekeepers’ produce three years ago and soon plan to launch a website which aims to turn those lessons into greater reward – for beekeepers. An added emphasis on honey trading on their website will seek to eliminate disconnect between consumers’ demands and producers’ output, thus gaining greater value for honey, owner Logan Bowyer believes.
The honey trading website will operate at www.manukaorchard.com and act as a portal where honey buyers, wherever they might be in the world and no matter the size of the order, can easily browse the inventory of honey for sale stored at Mānuka Orchard.
The Paengaroa facility has seen more than 11,000 drums of honey pass through its doors, moving from beekeeper to buyer, since opening in 2019. Gaining greater returns for the beekeeper is a goal for husband-and-wife owners Logan and Tania Bowyer. The new website’s first stage of development will go live prior to the June 30 commencement of the Apiculture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch, so that they can discuss it with buyers and sellers there.
“We have identified that one of the biggest problems for the industry is beekeepers don’t necessarily know what honey to produce,” Logan Bowyer says.
“They don’t know what the consumer is actually looking for and what they are willing to pay. So, our new website has been designed with that in mind. It keeps it really simple. The buyer will have three ways to purchase honey via the front page. One through a bulk volume indicator, one through a map of New Zealand which indicates what stock we have and its geographical origin, the other way is just by telling us what honey they want, where they want it sent and in what packaging.”
The current intermediaries between the producer (beekeepers) and end consumer (often half a world away) are not transferring the information required for beekeepers to best manage their businesses, Bowyer believes.
“We have the seasonal nature of our produce, which affects supply-demand imbalance, and we have a lack of understanding of what consumers want. It seems to be a tightly held secret in the industry, with divisions between the producers and those who take the honey to market. That information is not readily available to anyone downstream.”
Since opening their doors Mānuka Orchard has sent potential honey buyers, domestic and international, a regular update on the stock held at the facility and facilitated trades that way. The new website aims to overcome the shortfalls of that spreadsheet-based system though, and hopefully open the door to more buyers.
“The new site will sell Kiwi beekeepers’ produce to the world. It is about moving from predominately New Zealand buyers to connecting with the end consumer, no matter where they are in the world. I want the end consumer to be whoever is in it for the same reasons we are. That is to value the story, value the product and where it comes from. That should result in the most value for the primary producer,” Bowyer says.
The website will be accessible free of charge, but a login is required to obtain detailed information on honey available for sale. Honey must be stored at Mānuka Orchard’s facility to be listed online, while Bowyer will continue to broker deals, initially at least, to ensure quality trades. They do not charge a fee for listing but take a small brokerage on a completed sale, Bowyer says.
“Our big selling point right now is quality assurance and so it has to come through our facility so we can confirm that. It provides trust to the buyer and we are trying to bring that back.”
The entrepreneur, who initially entered the industry as an engineer streamlining honey facilities, says the new website could be “another steep learning curve”, but believes something needs to be tried.
“The future for buyers is, anyone can order honey. From a sample pot to those wanting 100-tonnes, this platform will help our suppliers meet their demand,” Bowyer says, adding, “we want to turn this from a pushing industry, to a pulling industry where the consumer is pulling the demand not the producer pushing the supply”.