Tony skinner 00:01
Hi, and welcome to the podcast show with www.podcastmybusinesses.com.au. And joining us today is James from Egmont, honey. That’s www.egmonthoney.co.nz. So yes, that is New Zealand. And it is New Zealand, honey. How are you, James?
Yeah good, Tony. Thanks for having me on the show.
Tony skinner 00:27
Yeah, no worries at all. And I was looking up doing some research and I remembered. I actually read a book recently from Sir Edmund Hillary, who of course, is well known in spiffy New Zealand. As a beekeeper.
He was certainly one of the more famous beekeepers. That’s right.
Tony skinner 00:49
Yeah. So it was interesting reading his story that at the beginning, before he became very well known, it was the beekeeping and the beekeeping business. It was keeping him going, and being able to start climbing mountains.
Yeah, I haven’t actually read that book. But I do. I do believe that is the case. What cash flow from day to day?
Tony skinner 01:12
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I mean, you guys have done really well. In relation to business expansion and so on. So how’s it gone with the we’ll just get straight into that the Coronavirus issues with your business?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve actually been really lucky, unlike, you know, many other businesses who we really feel for COVID has been relatively kind to the to the manuka honey industry. We’re selling a product that’s, you know, perceived immunity properties have made it really popular, particularly in countries like the UK, USA, perhaps parts of Europe that are really struggling with COVID. So, as an industry, we’ve actually been very, very lucky.
Tony skinner 01:57
Yeah, exactly. I mean, you know, the mankha, or manuka, as we call it, whichever way you know, better than mainland, I call it manika. From now on, ma, ma, nuca.
Manuka. Cleaning a perfect moldy way of saying the word.
Tony skinner 02:12
Okay, so Manuka. So yeah, it does have that perception and love. I think there is some proof for its health benefits, I’m not sure it will help in this particular situation. And there’s a lot of counterfeiting and copying going on. Because it’s very hard to prove, without a lab and everything else. Which one is actually genuinely true and actually isn’t.
Yeah, that’s, that’s true. So we’re really lucky A few years ago, New Zealand government or MPI Ministry of primary industries, put a lot of work into creating scientific definition for manuka honey. So we can now see the honey to a lab and it has to reach certain levels on five chemical markers plus a DNA test as well, which determines whether it’s a non manoukian essentially Manuka or MULTI FLORAL Manuka so we can actually scientifically define now what is a manicure and we also subscribe to the UMF honey Association where you’ll see the F Mark quite often on the jar. And again that your hand has been ordered to the market by the Association it can be very short. It’s true to label. So there’s a few things to watch out for. That’s for sure.
Tony skinner 03:28
Yeah, absolutely. And of course, so it’s a manuka because of the variety of flowers and plants that the bees gather the nectar from.
Yeah, that’s right. So manuka is a grows in New Zealand mostly wild although there are people planting it now. So grows on sort of the very remote Hill Country of New Zealand and yeah, we so we it’s the type of plant it’s almost a type of a tea tree, if you want to compare it to something and yes, so we have to actually use helicopters to place the hives and these remote stands of Monica and then obviously the bees click the nectar from the Manuka flower which flowers for about six weeks a year during the summer
Tony skinner 04:13
wow so how so the bees are too lazy to do it you got a helicopter I mean
we’re gonna fly them and yeah, yeah, maybe they could do it themselves but not I mean, we do that because the stupid I guess, ecosystem lis using helicopters just to place the hives and you don’t have to cap tracks and roads and near to the vehicles and somebody here is simply so remote you couldn’t get a vehicle near anyway to three hours walking. If you’re lucky. Yeah.
Tony skinner 04:46
Well, that probably explains why you know again, when you look at the price, eating is more than the cost of normal honey and again, why those counterfeiters are pursuing it. Because the effort that you have to go to to get the honey is probably more than normal.
Oh, it’s huge. And I mean that, you know, the helicopter bills are one part of it. And don’t get me wrong. There’s what we call drive insights as well that are easier to access. But of course, it only flowers for six weeks of the year, and it flowers in different parts of the country at different times. So some big flowers in the far north, for instance, earlier than it does in the flower city worked its way down the country. So some beekeepers will chase that flower down the down the whole country, if you like, with the heart. But if you think it only flowers for six weeks a year and part of the country, and you get a day’s rain, the bees don’t come out of the hive and work. It’s too windy that I go out and work. It’s too cold and I get to work. So there’s a lot of variables that can affect when you have a good or a bad season each year. Hence the cost.
Tony skinner 05:48
Right. So they are saying, well, there we go. So they are lazy.
They’re lazy. Well, yeah, I mean, the bees Can’t they did temperamental, shall we say?
Tony skinner 05:59
That’s cool. It’s interesting. A little while ago, I interviewed So James Cohen, of course, you know who that is nice, because you’ve had a rugby career as well. And yeah, it seems to be that particular types of people in New Zealand, and Australia, compared to the rest of the world, especially when it comes to rugby. And we’ve got flow coming back. Very soon. We do this will not this month, next month.
I think if I remember, right, I’m gonna try and get along to them.
Tony skinner 06:32
Right. Okay. So what are what some of the, I guess legitimized health benefits? So would it be helpful say, right, the union side? Or is it helpful for people who are already sick? Or what? What would be the benefits?
Well, a lot of people take it just for general immunity, health and well being. And there’s different grades of it. So maybe we go back to Stephen, you know, without getting too technical, explain some of your clients and why manuka honey is unique. And the reason it isn’t unique is a scientist in New Zealand, Dr. Peter molan, who’s passed away now, great guy he founded in manuka honey was this antibacterial property, which you called non peroxide activity that is stable when it’s exposed to heat light saliva, enzymes in the blood, etc. So to give it some some perspective or context, a normal Hani will have some form of antibacterial property. But when it’s exposed, all of those things I just mentioned, it’s no more antibacterial than sugar, whereas manuka label when it’s exposed to all of these different elements, if you like. And that’s why you see it graded either as Mg O methylglyoxal, which is I guess the it’s a naturally occurring chemical marker that is responsible, the antibacterial property and the Monica and compete against 300 honeybees in the world. manuka honey is the only one that has this antibacterial property. So I guess that’s where the marketing started. And we’ve got to be very careful what we say around health claims and things like this not to not to get in, but people take it generally based on the level of antibacterial properties that it has. And people that do take it, they swear by it, and they they become lifelong users of the product. So it’s, it’s quite a quite an exciting product to work with.
Tony skinner 08:23
Yeah, absolutely. And I will stress that we’re not claiming any particular benefits. Some people may, some people may not. It’s found some particular properties. And so that’s been good. So how have you managed to expand productions so much
stuff for me, I mean, so we hear around 4000 beehives yourself as well. We buy honey from all over the country. So well, the whole country really from far north, right down to the bottom of the South Island. We have suppliers, who are beekeepers that might have anywhere between 505,000 hives generally. And they supply drums or honey, we have a large packing plant or factory in New Plymouth and the tenakee region. And in that factory, we pick all of our honey. And so we have a really solid supply network around the country and some really loyal beekeepers that look after us and therefore our consumers.
Tony skinner 09:21
Excellent. Okay. So, I guess looking at we’re looking at, you know, building a business on the back of a tiny little creature set. Here we are. We’re crawling our way out of the coronavirus pandemic. What lessons do you think would be important for businesses looking at expanding and again, not just on the back of a little creature, but it’s trying to grow of it?
Yeah, well, I mean, we talked about the temperamental nature of bees before and I mean, overly the some very well known that bee population is on the decline. In New Zealand, we’ve actually been very lucky mostly through The manuka honey boom, is, beehive numbers have been steadily increasing for the last number of years. But I mean, from a business continuity side of things, I guess we’ve been very lucky that we are diversified in a lot of markets. So some of our opposition, for instance, they have a lot of a lot of their eggs in the Chinese basket. So they’re very reliant on Chinese demand, or very relied reliant on the US demand. And as COVID has hit different countries at different times, it’s shown to us how important it has to be like if we talk to more than 20 countries in Australia is our biggest market actually. And so I guess it’s important to be if you can be diversified into as many countries as possible, should something happen.
Tony skinner 10:53
Yeah, absolutely. And you’re talking about eggs in one basket? Can I say, bees in one hive? Only?
Exactly. That way?
Tony skinner 11:02
I haven’t used as many baby jokes as I I’ve been trying to behave with you
got a list of them sitting there ready to ready to roll out over the next 20 minutes from?
Tony skinner 11:13
Well, you know, I don’t want to make it to sweetening for people. But there we go. Yeah. Yeah, look, I think what’s inspiring about your story is that, you know, it started small and has got bigger, because you’re prepared to, you know, expand and I guess, take risks and so forth. In the initial phase, when you started to expand
Yeah Look, I mean, we take risks, but it’s, I mean, I would like to set to calculate it. I mean, I work for another company previously, and in the hunting industry based in Hong Kong for five years, and was always entrepreneurial enough to know that eventually, I was gonna start my own. So I ended up buying my father beehive for Christmas. A month later, we had 100, you know, left my previous employment and we started the brand. And went from there. So I did everything sort of, you know, I did take a leap of faith, a little high paying job to crack on our own. But it’s, I mean, it’s gone really well from us. For us, we launched the brand itself in 2015, the montagny brand, and we also have a wine meaty honey brand, which isn’t, you know, in terms of Australia to 900 stores in Australia. In this year, I think we’ll go close to 40 million in revenue after sort of just five years of that brand big and market. So it’s been an extreme growth story. And we do take some risks, but yeah they’re, they’re all pretty well thought out before we jump into new markets or launching new products, feature etc.
Tony skinner 12:44
Great, okay. All right. So is there anything else you’d like to add?
No, no, I mean, it’s, you know, it’s been it’s been a great ride.
Tony skinner 12:53
Excellent. All right. Okay. Well, thanks very much for your time and I we’re in a different time zone. So head on out. Okay. And so that’s James with Egmont, honey. Thanks very much.
Thank you very much. Please, Tony.