Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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"Made with the same local pollens that adversely impact some, ingesting those same pollens may build natural resistance to the symptoms that make many people uncomfortable during allergy season," says Andrew Coté, owner of Andrew's Honey, which has more than 100 beehives in New York City. Andrew's Honey sells the products at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York as well as through area supermarkets, restaurants, and bakeries. "Farmers markets are one of the best places to get local honey," says Coté. "People tend to look for local honey, and the more local the better. People in the know look for their caramelized sunshine via small, local producers." Andrew's is a family business that has maintained beehives since the 1800s. For the past decade-plus, the company has main- tained apiaries atop various landmark buildings and other loca- tions all over New York City, including the grounds of the United Nations headquarters. Coté suggests that specialty retailers can maximize their sales of local honey by touting its environmental benefits—it likely has a lower carbon footprint than honey brought in from a greater distance—as well as its efficacy in treating local pollen allergies. Paul Hekimian, director of HoneyLove, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit conservation organization that seeks to protect the honey- bee population through consumer education and by inspiring urban beekeepers, agrees that consumers are seeking out local honey to treat their allergies. Hekimian himself makes small batches of high- end honey, which he provides to a handful of discriminating chefs. Glen's Garden Market, Washington, D.C., is among the many retailers that have been building out their local honey portfolio. "We've found that folks looking for honey are seeking out two things: raw honeys with proven health benefits and super-local honeys that can be used to mitigate allergies," says Danielle Vogel, Glen's founder. Vogel says that Glen's, which sources almost all its products from within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, looks for ultra-local honeys harvested within 20 miles of the store in order to maximize the products' immunity-boosting properties. Other Attributes In addition to seeking out local honeys, consumers have also become more attuned to honey varietals, says Lombard of the NHB. The pollens of specific clovers, for example, or from produce such as blueberries or avocados, can all produce unique honey varietals that obtain their flavors naturally. "People are increasingly interested in, for example, a buckwheat honey to use in making a barbecue sauce, or perhaps an alfalfa honey or a lavender honey for tea," says Lombard. Producers small and large—but mostly small—are jumping into varietals. Specialty food supplier and retailer CP Farms in Paso Robles, Calif., for example, which specializes in producing its own olive oils, lavender, and related products, recently introduced its own Wildf lower Honey. SPRING 2019 43 BEEKEEPING: A LABOR OF LOVE—AND PAIN H arvesting honey, says Barry Gambold, general manager of Hotel Indigo-Baton Rouge, "is a painful thing." The hotel installed a rooftop apiary, which supplies honey to the hotel bar and for use as gift bottles for VIP guests. Despite using an automatic device that harvests the honey from the screens, workers "have been stung a few times," he says. While protective equipment generally keeps beekeepers insulated from the venom of their honey producers, they also have to endure other hardships. Andrew Coté, owner of Andrew's Honey in New York, says rooftop honey farming introduces its own set of challenges. "It is often difficult to find parking, to avoid tickets, to battle traffic, and to carry heavy, bee-filled boxes up and down several flights of stairs," he says. "The only way to overcome it all is to power through it. Beekeeping requires a strong back and patience—and urban beekeeping more of both." It is a labor-intensive business. Labor, in fact, accounts for 50 percent of beekeepers' costs, according to a recent report from the National Honey Board, prepared by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. "These are extremely hard-working folks," says Margaret Lombard, CEO of the NHB. "It is a real labor of love—there's nothing glamorous about being a beekeeper. These are dedicated folks who usually come from generations of families who take pride in the products they produce."

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