One-stop-shop Cosana NZ rapidly expands global export reach

Cosana CEO Chris Bowman at Cosana NZ’s new honey processing facility in Taupo.

Since the first jar of honey came off their state-of-the-art Taupō production line in September 2021, Cosana New Zealand has rapidly expanded its customer base and global export reach. Driving the company’s expansion is CEO Chris Bowman, an experienced honey industry operations manager who has previously worked with industry highfliers such as King Honey and Mānuka Health NZ.

This venture began when Chris was approached by Japan-based Cosana Japan, a specialist in the production and sale of Mānuka honey from New Zealand. The company had worked with Chris before and asked if he would be interested in setting up an exciting new honey processing facility in Taupō to help meet their requirements.

“We’re a one-stop shop taking care of various customers’ needs, procuring honey for them as well as managing the supply chain from packing and labelling to export and logistics.”

Despite the 2020 COVID lockdown coming at the worst possible time – just as plans for the new plant were getting into full swing – Chris successfully pushed through the challenges to get the facility established in May 2021, with operations commencing only 14 weeks later. The automated plant is fully integrated to ensure quality production and offers full traceability through the supply chain.

“We utilise everything from the hive, including bee pollen and bee venom, and can deliver whatever the customer wants, from MGO-tested Mānuka honey to lip balms, mouth sprays, lozenges, gummies and many other hive-harvested add-on products.”

Today, Cosana New Zealand supplies honey not only to Cosana Japan, Cosana Europe and Cosana US but also to a host of other health food customers, all running different labels and brands. “Unlike other honey producers, we don’t have our own label,” says Chris. “Rather, we’re a one-stop shop taking care of various customers’ needs, procuring honey for them as well as managing the supply chain from packing and labelling to export and logistics.”

In its first full year of operation in 2022, Cosana New Zealand processed some 50 tonnes of New Zealand honey. Last year, that figure soared to 150 tonnes and is expected to hit 200 tonnes this year. Convenience for the customer is a big factor in this growth according to Chris.

If someone needs 1,000 jars of honey at a particular price point, Cosana New Zealand can quickly turn that order around, get it labelled, packed and on its way. Along with Mānuka honey, Cosana New Zealand processes multi-floral blends and is supplied by around 50 beekeepers throughout the North Island. “We create blends from different regions – a bit like a brewer or winemaker – that are consistent with our customers’ expectations.”

New Zealand’s Mānuka honey has long been valued for its quality and unique health properties. Not having had a winter cough or cold for some years – ever since he began consuming a spoonful of high-end Mānuka honey every day – Chris is passionate about its benefits.

Depending on the MGO levels, a 250-gram jar of Mānuka honey may sell from $15 right up to $200 or more. Seasonal weather conditions in different regions play a key role in both the quality and quantity of Mānuka honey produced. Chris says Northland often yields the highest-grade honey but not necessarily in large volumes, while the Central North Island produces good quality honey at much higher volumes.

Most of Cosana New Zealand’s customers are health-based food marketing companies. Only a small percentage of the honey processed through their plant is sold into the domestic market. The bulk is exported to Asia, Europe, the US and Canada.

Cosana New Zealand is adept at delivering products that meet various markets’ unique requirements and specifications. Having started with a team of three, Cosana New Zealand now employs around 12 staff. Thanks to assistance from a regional business partner programme, Chris was able to offer Dale Carnegie leadership courses to his team, with several staff having since progressed to managerial roles in quality control and warehousing within the company.

Cosana New Zealand is also making a wider positive impact in its region through various sponsorships, supporting events such as the 2024 Classic Disc Golf Tournament in Taupō.

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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