Case study: Spreading liquid gold around the world

Growing demand for New Zealand-produced honey has seen a small boutique honey company flourish into our largest single producer of specialty honeys

Growing demand for New Zealand-produced honey has seen a small boutique honey company flourish into our largest single producer of specialty honeys.

nz honey specialties manuka honeyWith so many artificial colours, flavours and additives in our food these days, consumers are increasingly looking for food that’s healthy, natural and pure. That’s great news for Mosgiel-based honey producer New Zealand Honey Specialties Ltd (NZHS). A number of its products are harvested in pristine World Heritage sites using sustainable beekeeping practices, and contain goodies such as beneficial bacteria, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Established in 2006, NZHS was set up with a strong export focus from day one. Just six years on, it’s New Zealand’s largest single producer of specialty honeys and makes some of the world’s purest mono-floral honeys, most of which are unique to this country.

Among them are premium raw honeys, predominantly produced in a creamed format. NZHS produces varieties such as thyme, manuka, clover and beech forest honeydew, as well as two honey-based drinks, which are sold through Waitrose in the UK. The company also markets manuka honey and blackcurrant extra jam, which it sells internationally, and plans to build on the range in 2013.
NZHS general manager Peter Cox says the premium profile of New Zealand honey has only been enhanced by the ‘100% pure’ tourism messages.

“Our honey has a very good reputation in terms of its purity, quality and taste, and our mono-flora honeys are a real point of difference,” he says.

That’s more good news for NZHS. With 95 percent of its sales made to offshore buyers, the company has experienced impressive growth. With worldwide demand opportunities for New Zealand Honey Co branded products outstripping its ability to supply, the issue isn’t so much one of looking for new markets but rather managing market growth carefully in order to build a premium brand, says Cox.

In its first three years, NZHS recorded a 995 percent increase in sales from August 2006 to August 2009 and won the 2009 Deloitte Fast 50 Award for Fastest Growing Company in New Zealand.
Naturally, that growth has leveled out a little, but NZHS is still enjoying a strong upward trend in sales, thanks mainly to the expansion of its Asian markets.

“Our main export markets are the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and South Korea. The Asian market is where all the opportunity is at the moment. It’s quite underdeveloped for NZHS compared to the Northern Hemisphere business and economically Asia is experiencing better economic times.

“In the longer term we’re looking to strengthen and build our brand as opposed to simply selling a commodity."

A company experiencing business growth on this scale requires robust banking facilities and sound financial advice. In 2010, NZHS switched to BNZ, and works with BNZ Partners in Dunedin.

“We work closely with the management team at NZHS to understand their export business and to devise payment and financing options that are suitable for them. Using BNZ’s International Payments Online system they track payments from overseas clients and get email alerts when payments arrive,” says Kate Skeggs, international trade and cashflow solutions specialist at BNZ Partners, Dunedin.

It’s a facility that Cox says has been really useful, but he’s also impressed by the overall service offering from BNZ.

“The financing facilities BNZ offers have been quite favourable and the cost of finance has been reasonable. The bank also offers strong support through its business advisory service. And over the last couple of months, our new CFO and I have found it really useful to connect in with the treasury part of the bank. It’s the complete package.”

NZHS also makes use of BNZ’s Queenstown-based international trade specialist who works with import/export clients in the Otago and Southland regions and provides ongoing advice around the risks the company faces when exporting.

Plus, regular export and training events held at BNZ’s Dunedin Partners Business Centre provide Cox and other local managers with learning and networking opportunities.

“I recently went to a BNZ event that Kate ran,” says Cox. “It was extremely good and I got a lot out of it – not just the information provided, but it was also a chance to connect with a variety of different business people.”

For her part, Skeggs enjoys dealing with NZHS and is excited about the company’s future.

“It’s a very interesting business and it’s fantastic that they are growing in offshore markets. It’s exciting to be working with a company that is successfully developing and exporting what is very much a New Zealand product.”

IN BRIEF
Founded in 2006, Mosgiel-based New Zealand Honey Specialties Ltd is our largest single producer of specialty honeys. With 95 percent of its products sold offshore, the company relies on BNZ to help it manage its day-to-day export transactions and plan for ongoing sales growth.

CONTACT
To find out more about BNZ Partners, phone 0800 273 916 or visit www.bnz.co.nz