MONEY IN HONEY
There is money in honey – as well as jobs, nutrition and a better health. BESTSELLER FOUNDATION has partnered with Honey Care Africa who works across East Africa to realise the profits – for bee-keepers as well as consumers.
African honey appeals to markets locally and regionally and can tickle taste buds continents away. But as many producers in East Africa are smallholder bee-keepers with limited market access, middlemen tend to take most of the profit while diluting the quality of the honey. The producers get next to nothing for their product – and consumers who want quality and the good taste of pure honey at an affordable price get substandard products that have been overcooked, diluted and mixed with artificial ingredients.
Enter Honey Care – set up in 2000 as an NGO with the purpose of contributing to economic development for farming families in rural Kenya. Honey Care has helped build a sustainable supply chain through which it buys high quality honey and agricultural outputs at fair market prices from smallholder bee-keepers and farmers. Since the beginning in Kenya, Honey Care has expanded into Tanzania and South Sudan and provides training for farmers, ensures that the beekeeping is done with consideration to the environment and that the product is of the highest possible quality thereby retaining its natural health effects.
The supply chain that Honey Care has built is one of the largest sustainable honey supply chains on the continent, a vertically integrated smallholder supply chain, and Honey Care is now sourcing peanuts, cashew nuts and sesame too. In 2015 Honey Care was sourcing products from 5,600 bee-keepers and farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan. It evolved into a for-profit FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) brand in 2013 and expects to reach an operational break even in 2017. Other than honey the main products are honey infused sesame and peanut crackers and nut butters (peanut and cashew).
The benefit for the consumers is that a range of affordable honey products are now available which are based on pure, undiluted honey where the health and nutritious properties are preserved.
BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s partnership with Honey Care aims at scaling the good results that Honey Care has achieved, and facilitate further regional expansion. It will also enable the introduction of new product lines. In 2017, Honey Care will introduce a super snack range of fortified products that will further increase the health benefits for consumers – to the benefit of the low-income segments of the market in particular.
Honey Care’s products can be seen rubbing shoulders with international brands in supermarkets in the region – and they are also available in small single-serving sachets in low-income areas. In early 2017, Honey Care sold its first batch of South Sudanese honey in Japan.
BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s director, Kristian Sloth Petersen, says that Honey Care’s evolution into a profit-making business is an impressive feat and that the positive effects for producers as well as consumers is not to be underestimated: “Building such a large sustainable supply chain from the ground up and involving thousands of farmers has taken dedication and a strong sense of purpose by Honey Care. With the latest expansions and the growing diversity in a product portfolio that emphasises on nutritious, healthy and affordable snacks, Honey Care has cemented its position as a conscientious player with a strong focus on social returns. BESTSELLER FOUNDATION is happy to be part of leveraging these impressive results and look forward to seeing Honey Care grow in the region.”
Honey Care Africa’s CEO, Ryan Marincowitz, is delighted to have BESTSELLER FOUNDATION as an investor and says: “The funds invested will help Honey Care Africa expand our supply chain throughout the region and allow us to buy more honey, peanuts and sesame from more areas, as well as allowing us to advance our new product lines which we are very excited about introducing in 2017.”
BESTSELLER FOUNDATION will be joining a handful of likeminded investors including AHL Venture Partners, AlphaMundi Group and Grameen Foundation.