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Thomas Clow

Honey Producers Co-op Meetings Update

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Here is an update as to what went on in the meetings that Bruce held this month across the country.

*If you are seriously interested in contributing to the co-op, please fill out the form from the link provided below:
https://josieclow.wufoo.com/forms/z17wxm850eqhf17/

 

Hello again everyone,
I hosted the last meeting on Wednesday. And my interpretation of the mood and tenor of all the meetings is “Wow”! I left every meeting with adrenalin pumping through my veins, and on such a high. There is categorically a strong ground swell of commitment to get a honey producers’ co-op up and running. But what excited me even more, a great desire by people to help; to contribute to the work, and to aid those in the industry who are struggling desperately.

 

I met with over 300 people, and I know from the emails of apology that many more would loved to have come, but other commitments prevented them. I expect that some others just didn’t hear about the meetings, or were unsure. So I am asking that those people who are keen to get a co-op up and running, to please contact as many beekeepers in their area as possible. I don’t want anyone who could be interested or has a need to miss out. As I said repeatedly in the meetings, if we all do just a little bit, it will add up to something big!

So why have the meetings universally endorsed setting up a honey producers’ co-op? A bunch of reasons! Firstly, honey producers are the only primary producers I am aware of in the country who start their season with no idea of what the price will be for their produce, or whether they can even sell their produce! The co-op would be the one giving pre-season price indications based on their market presence and the pull for product from their overseas customers, and be compelled to purchase their suppliers’ honey. Secondly, the combined might of the productive capacity of the co-op members gives them a voice with both the government and in the industry. The members through the co-op would no-longer be price takers, but price makers. Thirdly, harking to the moral and ethical reasons for beekeepers to associate through the co-op, it gives an opportunity to help each other and recognise need amongst the members. Refer to John Bell’s list (attached) where the co-op members can organise help to injured or ill beekeepers when that happens. Fourthly, it ensures that years of experience and knowledge are not lost! The co-op should and will become family where the older beekeepers who may not have relatives to share their skills with, need not see that expertise lost when they retire. Fifthly, again as per John’s list, the co-op would have buying power that will bring the cost of running their individual businesses down, as well as having the resources to help beekeepers deal with regulations and paperwork. Sixthly, if beekeepers want to exit the industry, the network of the co-op will help them recover value from their businesses and leave with dignity. This will also help prevent large numbers of hives being abandoned and becoming sources of AFB and Varroa to spread to actively managed apiaries.

There were many more reasons that came out of the meetings about why a co-op is not only needed but essential if the huge resource of many commercial beekeepers and beekeeping families is not lost.

 

It was also a pretty clear consensus that we go for a national co-op with regional centres. Being national, it will have some serious clout, but through regional centres, it will better be able to organise the use of spare infrastructure capacity, identify local needs, and build regional specialty honey varieties and the stories that will go with them.

To move forward, I need a comprehensive list of those beekeepers who are committed and determined to set up a nationwide honey producers’ co-op for the benefit of those producers. The co-op will be entrusted with the marketing, building brands and other intellectual property for and around their honeys, and exporting them as the premium product they are, in an international honey market full of fake, counterfeit and adulterated product. With the list and the associated number of hives represented, John Bell and I will go to see the Honourable Shane Jones and ask for funding from the Regional Development Fund. (Note that both John and I believe we need a critical mass of at least 100,000 hives to get a hearing with the minister.) We are going to ask for $2,000,000 per region. I have named and listed the “regions” below (don’t get upset if I haven’t quite done them right, we’ll get there in the end), so when you send us your details, also tell us what region you are in. There are 15 regions, so we are asking for $30,000,000 total.

 

For those of you in the earlier meetings, you won’t know about John Bell. When John got my email about the co-op meetings he got excited. He was a tutor at Taratahi, and is currently working with some Iwi to help them build their beekeeping businesses. Prior to working as a tutor, he lectured in marketing at the University of Otago’s MBA. He is eminently qualified to help. He was keen to see what I was up to, but couldn’t make the Hastings meeting, so we met the night before. When he showed me his list of things a co-op could offer beekeepers (see the attachment) I knew he had his head screwed on straight. John also has some knowledge of the workings of the Regional Development Fund, and contacts in Shane Jones’ office.

Anyways, when I showed John the co-op set up timeline and the despair that caused some beekeepers, John said, “Bruce, we can shorten that timeline! Ceracell has already funded Phase I, and you have done the research with your national meetings and your investigation of co-ops overseas and the previous New Zealand one. Once the meetings are finished we get a list of beekeepers and their hive numbers and we go and see Shane Jones!”

 

So that’s the plan. Those of you who are committed, send us the following info (all information will be treated totally confidentially), and please note that we want total honesty and truthfulness—we want to start as we mean to operate, with integrity at all times:

Name(s)
Business Name (if any)
Apiary registration number(s)
Postal address
Contact phone number(s)
Email address(s)
Region(s) location of your business (where your hives are most of the time)
Number of hives
How much honey you have in storage (in tonnes)?
How much honey you can produce in a good year?
How much honey you can produce in a poor year?
How much honey you can produce in an average year?
Will you help as a regional co-ordinator?
Are you willing and able to sit on a national steering committee?
Is there anything else you can help with?

The “Regions”:

1. Southland
2. Otago
3. Canterbury
4. Kaikoura/Blenheim
5. West Coast
6. Nelson/Marlborough
7. Wairarapa
8. Hawkes Bay
9. Gisborne/East Cape
10. Bay of Plenty
11. Manawatu/Kapiti Coast
12. Taranaki/Whanganui
13. King Country/Central Plateau
14. Waikato/Coromandel
15. Northland/Auckland

 

When I get the list back, I expect that there will be more people ready and able to help on the steering committee than we can comfortably manage. We need to progress the co-op as fast as possible, so I don’t want to get bogged down in large committee meetings. I will likely have to come back and find out what the back ground is of each person wanting to help and choose to get a good representation of skills. I think with me, John Bell, an experienced lawyer (possibly Mike Sage), I will want about four or five others. So please, please if you aren’t chosen to be on the steering committee, don’t take offense. No offense would be intended, and everyone will be needed in some capacity at some time. This is not going to be a “political” animal and cannot be if it is going to work. We must treat each other with respect and kindness at all times, even if we disagree as happens in a family. Remember, in the end it is your co-op and you can change things as and when it suits. But to get going now, I will be making some executive decisions with expert advice. Once the legal entity of the co-op is established with the rules for governance in place, you, collectively, can change things as and when you like.

 

I am waiting for those emails now. So decide if you are in as a founding member or not. After this email, only those who have replied and said “Yes, we are committed to make a co-op happen” will be kept in the loop. (If you don’t have an email address, post in your replies to: Ceracell, PO Box 204184, Highbrook, Auckland 2161.) I need those replies before 5 pm 30 April 2019. Then John and I will total things up, and finish preparing the application for Regional Development Funding. We’re going to Shane Jones as early in May as we can muster a meeting with him. So don’t delay!

 

Send your email to my daughter who is collating all the contacts: josie@ceracell.co.nz

 

Kind Regards,
Bruce Clow

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Thomas .

 

I have expressed an interest to be a  part of a Co Op. 

When you make endless phone calls trying to sell honey to people who are advertising "We want your Honey" and get zero response .... then we have to up the game and be pro active. 

So when you are drowning and someone throws a lifebelt into the water, you grab it with all your energy.

 

So .... if this flies, you will have all my energy.  You may not want it .... but the offer is there.

Edited by jamesc
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A co-op may or may not help with selling honey but what will it do to help with the lack of production caused by gross overstocking?

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Posted (edited)

Overstocking is not the Co Ops problem.

The Co Op is there to sell what the Bee Man produces .... how the Bee Man ,or Wo-Man does that is their  dilemma. I'm picking that in the beginning the Co Op's focus will be on moving honey that is'nt covered under the Manuka standard....

 

Edited by jamesc

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Although if it brings neighbours together and it can be demonstrated that the same harvest can be produced with fewer hives/less effort.....

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Posted (edited)

Until I was so rudely interrupted by the auto edit .....

 

I was reading about Kiwi Fruit today ..... and like honey, you can buy kiwi fruit on the world market for a dime a dozen. But, if you want the the real deal KIWI fruit, you gotta pay a little bit more. It's all about the story.  Kiwi Honey has that  story .....  at least ... mine does .... and I want a little bit more than world price for it ! 

Edited by jamesc
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The market will resolve the over-stocking problem, it is happening as we speak.

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So I hear .... where all those bees going ?

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33 minutes ago, jamesc said:

So I hear .... where all those bees going ?

more importantly, where are all their varroa going? and the spores of the afb infected ones?

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1 minute ago, tommy dave said:

more importantly, where are all their varroa going? and the spores of the afb infected ones?

OE .... ?

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10 hours ago, jamesc said:

Until I was so rudely interrupted by the auto edit .....

 

I was reading about Kiwi Fruit today ..... and like honey, you can buy kiwi fruit on the world market for a dime a dozen. But, if you want the the real deal KIWI fruit, you gotta pay a little bit more. It's all about the story.  Kiwi Honey has that  story .....  at least ... mine does .... and I want a little bit more than world price for it ! 

 

I read the same story and if you replaced the word kiwifruit with the word honey hopefully that can be our future.

The co-ops most important job is to get the right marketing gurus on the payroll because without them it will never float.

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Where’s mr boot

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On 28/04/2019 at 9:10 PM, glynn said:

Where’s mr boot

I am here.

Reading with interest and following the tone of the conversation. I love the enthusiasm and the excitement that the concept generates. I look forward to seeing the business plan and the structure of the organisation? 

Presumably someone is developing the marketing strategy, the product offering, future NPD direction and the value proposition? Presumably this is/will be geared deliver both volume and added value?

What is the vision? Is there a consensus on the vision? 

Time line? 1, 3, 5 year planning? Goals and objectives?

Is the organisation selling bulk honey or finished goods or both? 

What products, ranges, brands? 

Which markets, which channels?

Where is the infrastructure, how will this be managed and coordinated? 

What is the funding model and structure?

How will the board be appointed? 

Who is/will be the CEO?

 

It will be fascinating to observe the processCheers 

 

Adam

 

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On 6/05/2019 at 10:44 AM, Adam Boot said:

I am here.

Reading with interest and following the tone of the conversation. I love the enthusiasm and the excitement that the concept generates. I look forward to seeing the business plan and the structure of the organisation? 

Presumably someone is developing the marketing strategy, the product offering, future NPD direction and the value proposition? Presumably this is/will be geared deliver both volume and added value?

What is the vision? Is there a consensus on the vision? 

Time line? 1, 3, 5 year planning? Goals and objectives?

Is the organisation selling bulk honey or finished goods or both? 

What products, ranges, brands? 

Which markets, which channels?

Where is the infrastructure, how will this be managed and coordinated? 

What is the funding model and structure?

How will the board be appointed? 

Who is/will be the CEO?

 

It will be fascinating to observe the processCheers 

 

Adam

 

Hell I'm pleased I am a simple hobbyist, it's so much more fun. my spare honey simply 'disappears'.

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1 hour ago, Sailabee said:

Hell I'm pleased I am a simple hobbyist, it's so much more fun. my spare honey simply 'disappears'.

I am sure it is!

 

The new Co Op will have a plan I am sure and all these questions and many more will have been thought through? I will be interested to understand the pitch to Shane Jones? Is this a loan or grant proposal. What is in it for the Government? 

The question is: If the government gives you $30m today. How will that change the market price of honey tomorrow? Or will the $30m end up being a subsidy? 

I am still waiting for the explanation: How will the Co Op manage to get the global market to pay more for a kg of honey? 

If the answer to this question has not been determined then the Co Op can not be successful.

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I'm equally happy that I have not just spent a kings ransom setting up a glittzie company with a  market structure that demands I sell honey for well about the average price to keep me in the manner to which I am accustomed. 

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On 6/05/2019 at 10:44 AM, Adam Boot said:

I am here.

Reading with interest and following the tone of the conversation. I love the enthusiasm and the excitement that the concept generates. I look forward to seeing the business plan and the structure of the organisation? 

Presumably someone is developing the marketing strategy, the product offering, future NPD direction and the value proposition? Presumably this is/will be geared deliver both volume and added value?

What is the vision? Is there a consensus on the vision? 

Time line? 1, 3, 5 year planning? Goals and objectives?

Is the organisation selling bulk honey or finished goods or both? 

What products, ranges, brands? 

Which markets, which channels?

Where is the infrastructure, how will this be managed and coordinated? 

What is the funding model and structure?

How will the board be appointed? 

Who is/will be the CEO?

 

It will be fascinating to observe the processCheers 

 

Adam

 

So much to do .... I think it's called 'Team work'.

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19 hours ago, Sailabee said:

I'm equally happy that I have not just spent a kings ransom setting up a glittzie company with a  market structure that demands I sell honey for well about the average price to keep me in the manner to which I am accustomed. 

I have not seen glitzy companies in the New Zealand honey industry. Seriously. This is hardly silicon valley!

I see a few companies that make significant strides to make themselves relevant on the world stage and provide the required reassurance that international purchasing teams expect to see. I see investment in facilities, laboratories and technicians. In functional white cleanrooms and state of art production and packing equipment. I see polished food grade stainless steel and a highly skilled workforce. I see world class traceability, QA and compliance. I see significant investment in science, R&D and NPD with a view to raising the value of New Zealand honey above the global commodity norm. I see $ millions invested in stock to ensure customers and consumers receive continuity of supply. I see improving standards and enhanced testing regimes. 

I see marketing $'s as the awareness delivery mechanism. A necesity for encapsulating this effort and achievement and delivering the New Zealand honey message to a challenging global market. 

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And In reality we need these companies to work hard marketing their honey for good prices because in the long run we all benefit by riding on their coat tails. 

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what we really need is a time machine.. 

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On 12/05/2019 at 1:28 PM, Adam Boot said:

 

I am still waiting for the explanation: How will the Co Op manage to get the global market to pay more for a kg of honey? 

If the answer to this question has not been determined then the Co Op can not be successful.

 

My daughter bought me some shortbread for mother’s day .

it cost $25 for 390 grams.

It was from a local company that specialises in top shelf confectionary .

The profit on that box of shortbread would have been pretty high considering there wouldn’t have been a lot of extras in the shortbread compared to shortbread from pacnsav .

It was very yummy and a perfect gift for a special occasion but was it worth $22 more than the $3 packet on the supermarket shelf ?

To me it was because it was more than just a box of biscuits.

 

If we market our NZ honeys as being special in some way then that’s going to be a good start. 

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4 hours ago, frazzledfozzle said:

It was very yummy and a perfect gift for a special occasion but was it worth $22 more than the $3 packet on the supermarket shelf ?

It was yummy 'cos it actually had real butter rather than a passing spray of milk fat...

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6 hours ago, frazzledfozzle said:

 

My daughter bought me some shortbread for mother’s day .

it cost $25 for 390 grams.

It was from a local company that specialises in top shelf confectionary .

The profit on that box of shortbread would have been pretty high considering there wouldn’t have been a lot of extras in the shortbread compared to shortbread from pacnsav .

It was very yummy and a perfect gift for a special occasion but was it worth $22 more than the $3 packet on the supermarket shelf ?

To me it was because it was more than just a box of biscuits.

 

If we market our NZ honeys as being special in some way then that’s going to be a good start. 

 

On 12/05/2019 at 1:28 PM, Adam Boot said:

I am sure it is!

 

The new Co Op will have a plan I am sure and all these questions and many more will have been thought through? I will be interested to understand the pitch to Shane Jones? Is this a loan or grant proposal. What is in it for the Government? 

The question is: If the government gives you $30m today. How will that change the market price of honey tomorrow? Or will the $30m end up being a subsidy? 

I am still waiting for the explanation: How will the Co Op manage to get the global market to pay more for a kg of honey? 

If the answer to this question has not been determined then the Co Op can not be successful.

Well I guess the secret to success is to hire someone like yourself Adam  to go out and sell the stuff. Someone who can spin a yarn, wax lyrical about why your customer needs to eat our honey rather than someone else's. Believe you have the ability to make  the impossible the possible .... get down and dirty and  out of your comfort zone , dream a little and perhaps, just perhaps .... be prepared to be surprised !

 

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On 13/05/2019 at 11:34 PM, jamesc said:

 

Well I guess the secret to success is to hire someone like yourself Adam  to go out and sell the stuff. Someone who can spin a yarn, wax lyrical about why your customer needs to eat our honey rather than someone else's. Believe you have the ability to make  the impossible the possible .... get down and dirty and  out of your comfort zone , dream a little and perhaps, just perhaps .... be prepared to be surprised !

 

There is nothing that can't be done or achieved. There are no comfort zones and there is no need to get down and dirty. It's about working clever with clarity of vision and focus. 

Marketing by committee will not work. it cannot and will not. The members need to drop their marketing ideas at the door and employ and accept expertise. Members need to focus on what they are good at or should be good at - producing honey. 

A Co Op will not provide an excuse for uncompetitive production or production of unsaleable product. You can create markets where they do not currently exist, but you cannot do this overnight. The operation has to be super efficient from day one. It will need very significant working capital and a very significant marketing budget. 

If and it is a big IF that the Co Op gets $30m from the government it will probably need another $90m in funding to support an organisation of this size and the cash flow time delay. 

The Co Op will be short on assets as these will be owned by the members. Bank funding will probably not be an option. How much cash input are the members providing? Can they provide the upfront $90m extra working capital to support this venture. 

Who is vetting the Membership? This is critical. Entry must only be for those that are financially stable. The Co Op must start from a position of strength. If it is a band aid for multiple companies in trouble it will remain the same - a company in trouble - just bigger. There are many beekeeping operations and many labels on the verge of collapse. There are casualties every week and some are well known organisations. There are many that are haemorrhaging at unsustainable levels and the end is a when? not an if? Industry consolidation will probably continue through 2020. This maybe sad but it is not a reflection of the global market strength it is a reflection of the NZ honey industries position within it. 

Industry consolidation is a good thing and an inevitable phase for any industry. It will happen again and again through the maturation of the industry and always the cream will rise to the top. 

By 2021 the landscape will be very different. Many of the old guard companies and some big brands will have gone, merged or morphed. Can the Co Op be strong enough to be one of the new guard. From the outside it is the appearance of being the last option rather than one of the options? It looks like it may be an act of desperation and saviour to all in trouble? 

That might not necessarily be a good starting position? 

 

I only go by what I read and hear and I may be way off the mark? I am not part of this and am not in the mix or in the know. I can only speculate and provide opinion from the outside. We all have views on how this should work or can work and the chances of success or failure. My vision maybe or is probably alien to everyone else and all those involved. 

It will be a wonderful and intriguing display of market forces I am sure. 

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And oak trees grow from acorns .... right !

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