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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Are we getting in our own way?

    I have recently been considering removing the word "local" from my market banners and business cards. I know many of us have been pushing local honey for several years now and it seems to have great marketing appeal. My problem is that several times a season, I have someone argue with me because they do not feel that my product falls into what they consider "local". I have tried to find an official definition of "local" in regard to honey and I get a BROAD range of answers.
    I also know that many beekeepers market their honey to the health conscious for all manner of issues. Some of these uses have well documented backgrounds, others not so much; but have become so ingrained by hearsay that they are taken as fact. Are we missing entire demographics of customers by focusing so much on just the health benefits?
    My business is large enough now that I have several honeys that are not commonly available from the smaller beekeepers in my area. People are often amazed at how different each honey tastes. I try to make an active effort to come up with recipes that showcase a particular honeys standout flavor. I am getting more and more people looking for honey for strictly culinary purposes.

    Are others feeling that the general trend toward marketing local honey might be holding us back somewhat? I have suggested to others in our area that we might think of replacing "buy local honey" with "Support your local beekeeper" I often refer to beekeepers as "Farmers without farms" because so many of my hives are on others farms and I own so little acreage myself. I am sure many of you drive some distance to your hives.
    Anybody else have any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    The mantra I hear a lot is "buy your zip code." Which is insanity if you ask me, there are NO farms in my zip code, and some codes are large in rural areas and one building in a city.

    If all your hives are within a few hundred miles, look at the zip codes your hives are in. Most likely the first 3 numbers will be in a close range. You can then add this to your label: "Honey harvested from hives located in zip code ranges 152XX-164XX" (or whatever your range is.) People will see that, see their zip code in that range, and register "this is local."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    I have seen that zip code thing too. One beekeeper even goes so far as to put the zip code on the jar. I feel this is great for smaller beekeepers, but my range is covers 3 states once you count locations for all the varietals. I have people rave about how awesome my sunflower honey tastes and then decide not to buy ONLY because it is not local to their area and they are SUPPOSED to buy only local honey. It came from my hives, managed by me. I feel that this zip code thing is limiting our customers to only the varieties in the area. They may be missing out on totally different ones like Buckwheat or Sunflower that may not be found in the stores, thus making a customer that looks for the beekeeper for years to come.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    Big 'ole "Meh" from me then. You can try to show them that it is best to support their neighbors. Use the "How do you know it's pure honey if you don't know your beekeeper" stickers.

    I assume these "discussions" (let's not say argue, while I'm a semi-professional arguer myself, we should never argue with customers, yadda, yadda....) are at Farmers Markets? Are there other people with stands of their own honey labeled "local?" If someone is going to walk away from your honey, even though they understand YOU harvested the honey from hives that YOU drove to, and there isn't another person selling honey that they can walk over to and buy "local" honey from, then I say they were never going to buy at all. They are just looking for a way 'out,' for them to walk away from your table and "be the moral winner," or whatever silly motivation they have. Some people just like to argue.

    After all, what are they going to do, walk into the local grocery store and buy their "local" honey? Who's gonna verify it's local, Skippy the stock boy?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    You've got the "some people like to argue" right. I also go to great lengths to not argue back to customers. I feel I need to put forth a professional appearance. The ones who have the worst issues are the radical ones . I feel some of them have already vilified me just because I am a beekeeper. They want their local honey on a regular basis, but don't want it to come from managed hives.
    I am really lucky in that I have no competition at most of my markets. I usually do a lot of business at Farmers Markets and as a result pay some of the highest commissions to the markets, so they want to keep me happy. I actually like it when there is another beekeeper, because we all seem to have slightly different products. I often refer people who are dead set on getting honey from their area to beekeepers I know they would consider "local".

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Starkville, MS
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    I put the county name of where the hives are located on the label. ex. "Pure, Raw, Oktibbeha County Honey". This let's the consumer know where it comes from, then they have to decide if they feel it is "local" or not.

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