Did you know that more than 50% of all eating occasions are snacks? Or that about 103 million pounds of honey is consumed in the morning daypart each year? These facts and more were presented at the National Honey Board's Honey Industry Summit, held on October 17th in Denver, Colorado.
The Summit was attended by honey producers, packers and importers, and focused on food and beverage trends impacting honey consumption and usage. It was an information-filled day as each of the National Honey Board's expert agency partners educated attendees about opportunities in the consumer, retail, foodservice, and food and beverage manufacturing marketplaces.
"The goal of the Honey Industry Summit is to help the industry sell more honey," Margaret Lombard, the National Honey Board's chief executive officer, said. "Looking at the trends driving the food industry today, it's easy to see how honey fits in. The Honey Industry Summit was a great way to convey this information to the companies who talk regularly to retailers, chefs, and large food manufacturers."
The daylong event kicked off with a panel of food industry experts detailing the key influencers impacting consumer purchasing decisions. Various studies were highlighted during the panel that shed light on what consumers are looking for, and what they're looking to avoid when they cook at home, dine out or buy a packaged food.
Not surprisingly, sweeteners are front of mind with most consumers, and the panel talked about the various ways honey can position itself as the preferred sweetener. Attributes such as all-natural, clean label and sustainability help distinguish honey in the marketplace, and the National Honey Board has been aggressive in conveying these message points to consumers. And, the effort has made an impact. According to the National Honey Board's Awareness & Usage Study from June 2018, honey is the preferred sweetener among the organization's target market of consumers.
A lively discussion closed the food industry panel and segued into the heart of the day's agenda. Each of the National Honey Board's agency experts detailed opportunities for honey in their field of expertise. Here are five of the key learnings from the Honey Industry Summit.
1. An all-natural way to start the day. Honey is synonymous with the morning daypart whether it's being used to top oatmeal or in a cup of hot tea. In fact, 73% of all honey consumed on an annual basis is consumed for breakfast. Even with this positive exposure, attendees learned that there is still a larger slice of the pie for honey to take in the morning daypart. The biggest areas of opportunity: Protein shakes, cold tea, English muffins, pancakes, and waffles.
2. Honey has great optics. A key topic of discussion throughout the day was the important role honey plays in marketing food and beverage products. This especially holds true with consumer packaged goods, which often use honey and honey bee imagery on product packaging to convey the benefits of the all-natural sweetener. Beyond marketing, attendees learned about the many opportunities in the growing snack category. Honey plays many roles in these products, from smoothing out the flavor profile of high protein foods to bringing a perception of familiarity to non-traditional products such as chickpea snacks.
3. With a side of honey. More and more consumers are consuming meals away from home than ever before, causing an explosion of new concepts and opportunities for honey to infiltrate menus at restaurants, cafeterias and more. The biggest opportunities appear with breakfast menus, which have slowly expanded to all-day menus. Other opportunities for honey to penetrate restaurant menus include housemade condiments, honey-inspired cocktails and pickling/fermentation.
4. Could coffee and honey be the new PB&J? This was the question posed to attendees during a deep dive session into honey's potential to gain market share in the burgeoning specialty coffee market. Specialty chains such as Peet's and Caribou have already jumped on the honey bandwagon by launching seasonal made with honey products. For example, Peet's recently introduced a Golden Caffe Latte made with honey, and a honey macchiato and cappuccino. The growth of the specialty coffee segment is not expected to slow down anytime soon, creating an excellent opportunity for honey to find its way into your favorite coffee drinks in the very near future!
5. Bees and beer. This year's Honey Industry Summit was held at Wynkoop Brewery for an important reason. Brewers love brewing with honey. In fact, according to a 2015 volumetric study conducted by the National Honey Board, brewers purchase more than 20 million pounds of honey a year! Besides being a gracious host for this year's Honey Industry Summit, Wynkoop Brewery also brewed a special honey beer for the event. After an information-filled day, attendees were able to wind down by taking a tour of the brewery while sipping on a refreshing glass of Honey Helles.