Kangaroo Island company set to be the Queen Bee as part of the National Trade Program

13 Dec 2021
A Kangaroo Island family-owned and operated business is ‘buzzing’ with excitement at being selected to participate in a new, $1.13 million National Trade Program, to be delivered over four years.

Island Beehive was established as an organic honey producer in 2001 by the Davis family who have been beekeepers for three generations, producing Ligurian Bee Honey since the mid 1900’s.

As one of the first organic honey producers in Australia, Peter Davis has been a leading voice in the honey industry. 

Island Beehive was established as a way for Peter to share his knowledge of beekeeping, promote the protection of the Ligurian Bee on Kangaroo Island and provide a way for the community to learn and experience the heritage of these special bees. With an extraction plant and packing facility built to export standards, Island Beehive is the largest producer of honey on Kangaroo Island producing up to 90 tonnes of honey each year. 

The company is amongst 15 South Australian businesses to participate in the first round of the bespoke program to develop their export capacity.

“The National Trade Program will help us build the capacity and capability we need to expand our distribution network and position us for exporting in the future as our capacity grows,” said Verity Hayman, Managing Director at Island Beehive. “Our longer-term export plans are to export our own label honey to Japan and other markets that have a demand for high quality, organic produce.”

The 2020 bushfires had a huge impact on the business, with the loss of over 500 hives. To help rebuild the business and give Peter the opportunity to retire, Peter’s son Brenton and partner Verity, purchased the business in July 2020. Brenton and Verity also operate Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action and the Little Sahara Adventure Centre. 

“Island Beehive has a strong brand presence on Kangaroo Island but is reliant on visitation to the island to sell our honey with a small percentage of sales online,” continued Verity. 

“The COVID related closures in 2020 highlighted the need for us to change our strategy and reduce the reliance on tourism as our main source of retail income. The National Trade Program gives us the opportunity to build our brand exposure and create a distribution network on the mainland. 

By participating in the program, Verity says they will gain the skills needed to build a broader market for their product. 

“This will enable us to sell more honey under our own label, reduce risk and improve the sustainability of our business, while creating more employment opportunities on Kangaroo Island.”

The National Trade Program provides training, access to industry mentors and offers direct connections to interstate buyers and distributers to help company participants secure interstate sales. The Department for Trade and Investment is sponsoring all participation costs, with companies covering the costs of shipping samples interstate and any travel costs.
The program includes export training modules delivered online by the Export Council of Australia; ongoing one-to-one mentoring with industry specific experts; excellent platform to test products for market acceptance; raise the profile of a company domestically and increase sales and provide opportunities to pitch to new buyer networks and channels.
“Our longer-term plans are to export our own label honey to Japan and other markets that have a demand for high quality, organic produce,” Verity said. “Traditionally the demand in these markets has been for bulk honey, but we believe there is demand for a product that can be traced back to its origin.

“We’re excited to be part of the National Trade Program, for the opportunities it brings to develop our skills and grow the business, but also for the opportunity to share knowledge with other small business owners.

“The National Trade Program will build awareness of the high quality, authentic products that are being produced by small businesses in South Australia across a range of industries.”

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