Next step for flourishing honey firm
Settlers Honey will soon have complete control of its honey from harvest to final product.
The company is in the process of building a packing line at its extraction facility on Makowhai Station at Ngamatapouri.
Company business development manager Bryn Hudson says that the move will create efficiencies for the business in addition to giving it more control over its product. It will also see the company employ six to ten additional staff.
The company also invested in its own extraction facility and is in the process of building a second facility to meet demand.
Settlers Honey was started in 2009 by Henry Matthews, the fourth generation of Matthews and Haddow families to farm at Ngamatapouri.
Traditionally a sheep and beef farming operation, Henry diversified and began a beekeeping enterprise to harvest honey from the regenerating manuka on the farms.
The business now comprises a series of farms but the original farm, Makowhai Station, came into family ownership in when Henry’s great grandfather Joseph George Haddow travelled up the Waitotara River in a canoe.
It now comprises 22000 acres of sheep and beef country, native bush and manuka.
Bryn says that Settlers Honey has developed working relationships with land owners around the North Island and hives are shifted to the different locations as the Manuka comes into flower.
Settlers Honey is looking to engage with new landowners and build sustainable relationships for the purpose of honey production in the summer and nurturing bee health in the winter.
I mportantly each jar of honey can be traced back to the honey site it was sourced from with each hive GPS registered.
Although this is becoming increasingly important for the local market it will also stand the company in good stead as it investigates export opportunities, says Bryn.
In an unregulated market for manuka honey, Settlers Honey manuka honey product is tested to determine quality.
The Molan Gold Standard is a New Zealand government accepted certification mark that appraises the natural marker methylglyoxal found in Manuka honey and assures purity and quality.
All Settlers Honeymanuka honey products have the Molan Gold Standard to give consumers full confidence that what they are purchasing has an accurate, scientifically conducted measurement of the claimed methylglyoxal content, says Bryn.
He welcomes the government’s moves to regulate the industry and define exactly what can be called manuka honey.
Bryn says growing market competition, two poor seasons in terms of weather and issues of overstocking of hives in certain areas are key challenges to the business.
He says the industry is determining what stocking rates are appropriate for a sustainable industry, something that was up for discussion at the recent Apiculture Conference.
The new Settlers Honey packing facility is earmarked to be up and running later this year.
Settlers Honey offers a Makowhai Native Blend and a range of manuka honey products.
A small amount is sold through the company store in Heads Road, Whanganui but the majority is supplied to Masterton based Watson & Son.
Bryn says the company is branching out into new products and is set to launch manuka honey lozenges.