By: Mark Winston
I led a analysis laboratory for 35 years at Simon Fraser College (SFU), operating round 200 honey bee colonies at our peak. Apart from information, we additionally produced many 1000’s of kilos a yr of fairly good honey. Don’t take my phrase for it; our clients would name as early as Could or June to line up for the honey we harvested in August and bought in September.
Why the robust buyer base? For one factor, it was wonderful honey. By no means heated or filtered (each processes drive off aromatics and taste), our honey was collected from a pleasant mixture of wildflower nectar that blended into an beautiful style. The proceeds from honey gross sales went to help graduate college students, and we dropped off fairly a couple of instances to meals banks on and off campus.
We had a model, Heavenly Honey, and a particular hand-drawn label on every jar. I traded my barber 4 jars of honey for a haircut, and shortly lots of his clients had been clamoring to purchase a couple of jars. We gave jars away to anybody on the college who had helped us over that previous yr, from the President to the cheerful girls with Italian accents who made specialty sandwiches on the SFU cafeteria, to the workers who cleaned our lab. These free jars rapidly translated into a large buyer base from the colleagues and buddies and households of those that obtained their annual free jar.
I’ve at all times been interested in smaller-scale, artisanal beekeeping, and to small batches of rigorously curated honey that include a narrative concerning the beekeepers and the land from which it was harvested. Thus, it’s not stunning that I used to be intrigued after I not too long ago got here throughout Drizzle, a Canadian honey advertising agency out of Calgary, Alberta.
Drizzle was based by yard city beekeeper Aja Horsley. She was working as an city agriculture researcher in Calgary; certainly one of her tasks concerned rooftop beekeeping for culinary honey. As she notes on their web site, Drizzle was impressed as a result of “I consider in responsibly producing honey whereas additionally creating a set of the very best high quality uncooked honey merchandise.”
She noticed a possible marketplace for uncooked honey and began the Drizzle model, initially promoting honey from different city beekeepers however ultimately increasing to bottle and market honey produced by rural beekeepers in a way constant along with her values for sustainable beekeeping
Drizzle’s branding and advertising are sensible, far more subtle than our Heavenly Honey advertising, targeted on particular however broad subsets of shoppers, significantly these involved with sustainability and private well being. Their shopper base appreciates meals that’s perceived as top quality reasonably than mass-produced, and comes with particulars and tales of terroir: the soil, climate, local weather and those that make every bottle of honey distinctive. Drizzle needs to make us be ok with shopping for their honeys: “Higher for you, higher to your cooking, and higher for the planet. Elevate your desk with deliciously uncooked, superfood powered honey whereas serving to honey bees thrive.”
What makes Drizzle honey higher than the standard packaged honey discovered on North American grocery store cabinets? Drizzle tells us on their web site that their honey is “pure,” “uncooked,” “unheated,” “unfiltered,” and “gluten-free,” phrases that resonate with shoppers curious about high quality assurance and superior merchandise.
“Pure,” is one time period with little which means on the hive, since all honey produced from floral nectar is pure. But it surely does have a compelling relevance as soon as honey is packaged on the market. Lately we’ve seen epidemics of honey adulterated with corn syrup and different sweeteners, and imported honey with detectable ranges of banned pesticides. Certainly, the biggest meals fraud case in U.S. historical past needed to do with adulterated honey imported primarily from China, and bottled and bought by American honey packers. Assurances that Drizzle’s honey actually is honey is of nice worth to cautious shoppers.
“Uncooked, unheated and unfiltered” are substantive phrases which might be higher outlined, and should certainly translate into higher tasting and extra healthful honey. “Uncooked” merely means the honey is as present in a bee hive. After being faraway from the hive, uncooked honey hasn’t been heated or closely filtered, though it could be strained to take out particles and air bubbles. Most business honeys are processed with each heating and filtering, and Drizzle’s advertising appeals to shoppers who consider that uncooked honey has extra style and heightened well being properties in comparison with processed honey.
Heating drives off a few of the fragrant compounds that give every honey its distinctive style and scent, and so shoppers consuming uncooked honey could have a extra flavorful expertise. Filtering does take away pollen, and whereas honey shouldn’t be stuffed with pollen, it does include some except it’s been extremely filtered, and that pollen might contribute to the style and dietary high quality of the honey.
Well being claims round uncooked honey are tough to show, however the rationale for uncooked honey being more healthy is that it incorporates minerals, enzymes, nutritional vitamins and antioxidants, vitamins which might be lowered or eradicated when honey is heated and filtered. Right here we run into the conundrum that characterizes many claims for bee merchandise: there’s not been a whole lot of rigorous science straight linking honey and well being, however there’s appreciable folks knowledge and passionate believers within the healthful qualities of uncooked honey.
As to gluten free: nicely, that’s simply intelligent advertising. Honey doesn’t include gluten, except it’s been contaminated. The Drizzle marketeers are recognizing a fad amongst lots of as we speak’s shoppers who keep away from gluten, not solely due to celiac illness but additionally as a result of an allergy or sensitivity. And Drizzle additionally factors out that their honey is non-GMO, a time period that reassures shoppers involved about genetically modified organisms.
Drizzle additionally attracts one other explicit swath of shoppers, these for whom “native” and “sustainable” are vital. It’s a Canadian firm, and so they make some extent of promoting that their honey is “Canadian Made,” and carries a sustainable designation by the Licensed B company that certifies merchandise that “meet the very best requirements of social and environmental affect.” The small print of what Drizzle considers sustainable beekeeping are obscure on their web site, however embody honey sourced from “honey pastures” which might be distant, and away from pesticides.
Drizzle can also be licensed Kosher, which opens up an extra market. A distinct segment, maybe, however one more instance of how certification to draw a selected clientele can add to the gross sales potential of a product.
Their closing stage of certification is as a feminine based and run enterprise, with two certifiers, WBE Canada and Girls owned. Beekeeping usually has seen an rising frequency of girls concerned in any respect ranges over the previous couple of many years, a development price celebrating, and once more a profile for Drizzle considered favorably by a selected set of shoppers.
Drizzle has not solely taken the artisanal route within the honey they market, however made the choice to model their honey away from the overall market and in direction of particular, albeit nonetheless broad, subsets of shoppers. Their model might flip off some units of shoppers, however is extremely enticing to those that are well being and sustainability aware, gluten avoiders, and people favorable to gender equality. Drizzle’s promoting appeals to all these segments.
In fact, their honey will finally rise or fall on high quality. Advertising and marketing might stimulate the primary buy, however on the excessive worth level their honey retails at, it’s going to need to fulfill extra than simply friendliness in direction of their model. Drizzle’s Golden Model honey sells on-line at $13.40 (U.S.)/lb., significantly pricier than most non-specialty retail honeys in america.
So how tasty is Drizzle honey? Properly, it’s fairly darned good, flavorful and fragrant. I ordered their Golden and White honeys, each of which arrived crystallized, with properly designed labels, and with flavor-specific recommendations for pairing with different meals. The White is “a floral, delicate uncooked honey that’s buttery in texture and completely paired with recent, mild flavours of fruit, lattes, and heat bread.” The Golden is a “wealthy, daring, uncooked honey completely paired with daring flavours like sizzling sauce, aged cheese or a cup of robust espresso.”
Apparently others agree. Drizzle now has 650 retailers throughout Canada, has been profiled in quite a few print retailers from airline to meals magazines and was profitable at attracting an funding from Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson.
Drizzle gives a pathway for individuals who need to get off the treadmill of industrially produced honey, and on to the slower however maybe as worthwhile a marketplace for artisanal honey with an recognized model.
Give it some thought: What’s particular about your honey, and how are you going to add worth via targeted advertising? Honey, in spite of everything, is far more than only a provider for sugars. Let’s make honey the high-end product it deserves to be.
Mark L. Winston is a Professor and Senior Fellow at Simon Fraser College’s Centre for Dialogue. His most up-to-date books have received quite a few awards, together with a Governor Normal’s Literary Award for Bee Time: Classes from the Hive, and an Impartial Writer’s Gold Medal for Listening to the Bees, co-authored with poet Renee Sarojini Saklikar.