Honey Business in Kenya: BY BUSINESS DAILY: Honey Care Africa CEO David Gachoki, whose company has been involved in honey production for about 18 years, is upbeat about the future of the sweetener.
“We are telling Kenyans that there is a healthier way of sweetening their cup of tea, coffee and other beverages. That’s honey.
“Honey has the same sweetening components as sugar, the only difference is that it is healthier,” said Mr Gachoki.
Recently, Honey Care rebranded a range of its honey and healthy snack products at an event officiated by Agriculture secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.
Established in 2000, Honey Care Africa is a pioneer in the industry in Africa. The company started off as an NGO with the aim of conserving the environment and supporting rural farmers involved in beekeeping.
“We would offer farmers hives, beekeeping equipment and training in ultimately offering a ready market by buying their honey, ” said Mr Gachoki.
Today Honey Care Africa employs over 60 staff and has helped over 6,000 small-scale beekeepers earn a supplementary income of between Sh18,220 and Sh25,250 per annum. For many, the income from honey makes the difference between living below or above the poverty line. The company’s annual turnover has hit Sh103 million and it plans to reach Sh2 billion in four years.
Mr Gachoki said that their flagship product is Beekeepers Honey which was named in honour of smallholder beekeepers across the East African region from whom the firm sources the sweetener.
“The Beekeepers range is a blend of honeys from both the arid and semi-arid areas and highly forested areas. Aside from Beekeepers there are also natural valued added varieties of mint, cinnamon, ginger and lemon ginger.”
Honey Care’s range of products includes Highland Honey, Acacia Honey, and Select Harvest Honey.
The firm also makes peanut and cashew nut butters which are laced with honey and don’t have artificial additives and preservatives. The firm makes snacks using natural ingredients such as honey, sesame seeds and peanuts.
Mr Gachoki said that Kenya has potential to produce 100,000 tonnes of honey annually but produces about 25,000 tonnes which is insufficient to meet market demand. Due to the shortage, they have been forced to import mainly from neighbouring Tanzania.
He urged the Agriculture ministry to work closely with farmers and come up with mechanisms to help the sector grow. “We have the capacity. The hindrance is that our farmers still use old methods leading to low production.”