Covid-19

Sweet charity

The director of a South Island honey company is donating 21,000 jars of manuka honey to food banks – and he wants other companies to follow his example, writes Bonnie Sumner.

It’s only money, honey.

At least, that’s how Steve Lyttle of 100% Pure New Zealand Honey in Timaru is looking at it.

Due to a labelling mistake, ten tonnes’ worth of his company’s manuka honey mixed with blueberry cannot be exported as planned.

The total shipment is worth $350,000, with a retail value of $560,000. In Korea, where the honey was heading, the duty bracket is significantly higher for products containing more than 90 percent honey than for those with less than 90 percent honey.

“Because it’s a mixture of honey and fruit, the labels got reprinted and the percentage on the label for some reason got changed,” says Lyttle. “That would have put it into a higher duty bracket – from 8 percent to 246 percent duty – so you can understand why the customer wouldn’t want it. It was just a misprint on the label that somehow got past the system.”

He says they can’t reprocess and repackage it due to their strict company policy around not overheating the honey. As an export-only company they don’t have a New Zealand market, so decided to donate the product to the Salvation Army and City Mission instead. The shipment will be delivered around the country from today, intended for food banks in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

“It’s a few dollars’ worth, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a technical error, these things happen. It’s a matter of moving on and putting it in a good home,” Lyttle says.

“There’s a need for it in the community. The food banks are just ecstatic they’re getting it all because they’re so short of stuff, and so we just thought it’s an appropriate thing to do with it.”

Mainfreight, which carries most of 100% Pure New Zealand Honey’s freight, have come to the party with a discounted rate to get the product to food banks nationwide, with the rest of the cost carried by Lyttle’s company.

Considered an essential business, Lyttle has managed to keep all 10 of his staff fully employed and says it’s something they can do as a company to help ease the pressure on the food banks.

He wants other companies who are in a similar position to do the same, particularly those that have product they would normally rework or has been “sitting around gathering dust”.

“If they can help out they should do. We’re in unprecedented times, lots and lots of people are really struggling and every little bit we can do to help is great.”

“For us, with 21,000 jars, it’s about 50 servings a jar, that’s a lot of smiles each time someone has a bit of honey on their toast, so that’s all we’re looking for.”

This isn’t the first time Lyttle and his wife, co-owner Carolyn Ball, have donated their product to help others.

“We gave some to the food banks a few years ago, when we had stock on hand after delisting from the supermarkets. We’re really happy we’re able to be in a position to help, because everyone’s in this together.”

* Made with the support of NZ on Air *

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