An interesting cooperation arose between members of the local stakeholders' groups from 4 NICHE regions: West Region - Romania, Kujawsko-Pomorskie - Poland, Crete - Greece and Border – Ireland. They share the same goal – to create greater value for local honey and for consumers’ knowledge about the honey source and quality, by providing at the same time support to small honey producers for testing and certifying the quality of their honey and bring it on the international market at a fair price.
Everything started in Donegal, Ireland, when based on the "Active honey” research project conducted by the Institute of Technology Sligo end 2013, a group of Irish entrepreneurs launched the “Active Irish Honey” brand which has gained very rapidly a high recognition of the local community. Initially the research was restricted to evaluating the medicinal properties of local Irish honey comparative to New Zealand "Manuka" Honey.
At the same time, they developed H!VE Honey, a marketing model aiming to create a new and sustainable honey production and sales model that is scalable, commercially viable and offering quality local products.
Both the geographic reach and scope of the project expanded when international partners from NICHE regions joined the research which enabled market visits, meetings and workshops involving H!VE and bee-keepers / honey producers in Timisoara, ROMANIA (May 2017), Toruń, POLAND (November 2017) and Donegal, IRELAND (September 2016).
Samples of honey supplied by beekeepers from West Region, Romania have been already tested in Ireland and there is at the moment a commercial opportunity for Romanian honey sales into UK & Ireland as a branded "higher-value" product compared to current "bulk" commodity priced honey sales.
Using the know-how from the Irish partners, an association of beekeepers from West Region, Romania, will develop an "in-house" honey testing capacity for beekeepers from the area, compliant with EU Food Safety Law and Exporting / Audit requirements and avail of the necessary supporting IT infrastructure, packaging solutions & honey product labelling systems. A similar project is in discussion in Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region from Poland, too.
This approach will provide supply chain transparency and consumer trust via use of information technology and innovative product labelling. The innovative technological platforms provide small scale honey producers with a new market opportunity to transition from "commodity" priced bulk honey sales to differentiating their honey product. Communicating product authenticity and the food story - the honey producer can enter the supply chain higher up and achieve better prices.
NICHE project thus provided the opportunity to research the scalability of the H!VE Honey Marketing Model facilitating partnering opportunities for honey producers from Romania, Poland, Greece and the promoters of the innovative marketing model H!VE from Ireland.
The goal is to replicate the H!VE Honey Marketing Model with partners also from other European honey producing regions so as to capture more product value at the producer end of the supply chain.
The core honey product remains the same… but increased value is captured!
This cooperation is a clear example of interregional food value chain development and will be further monitored during NICHE 2nd implementation phase.