When the price of honey fell to 75 cents a pound in 2006, honey producers Sam and Sandra Thiessen of Tofield, Alberta felt they needed to value add or get out of bee farming.
“We experimented adding real fruit to our creamed honey and after a year of trial and testing on family and friends, started our business, Verry Berry Honey. We began with six flavours — strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, red raspberry, black raspberry and cinnamon, and are now up to 18, all made with real fruit,” says Sandra.
In 2008, the Thiessens developed their BBQ honey glazes for meat and two years later added honey vinaigrettes. The vinaigrettes are made with all natural ingredients such as extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt. The BBQ glazes include Cherry Chipotle, Chili Garlic, Chipotle, Dijon, Pineapple Citrus, Raspberry Chipotle, and Teriyaki. “All of our products are gluten free and all natural. We keep our products all natural because we want to enhance the health benefits of honey, not destroy them.
“The health benefits of honey are phenomenal. Its antibacterial properties deter the growth of certain types of bacteria, yeasts and moulds. It never spoils. This means that most of our products have no expiry date,” says Sandra.
A year after they started their business, the couple began selling the products at farmers’ markets. Response has been extremely positive. “People are tired of artificial additives to their food and are willing to go the extra mile for a quality product.”
In 2009, the Thiessens installed a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)-approved commercial kitchen and began retailing their honey-based products in stores. They incorporated the business under Beary Berry Honey Inc. in 2010. With the help of Alberta Agriculture they obtained a buyer in China and sent their first shipment into that country in June.
Beary Berry Honey is presently a family-run operation with the Thiessens’ four children actively involved in the business. However, Sandra says with the increase in demand for their products they are likely looking at expanding their current facility and hiring additional staff. “We want to continue to develop new products.
“It’s been expensive to start a new business, and there were many risks. But it’s very gratifying to have a product that is not only good for you but is now in demand nationally and internationally for its quality and taste,” Sandra says.
“It’s a journey of faith, both in yourself and in God. We prayed for a family business and God provided one,” she says.
Beary Berry Honey products are currently available at trade shows, via mail orders, at farmers’ markets in Edmonton, and a number of retail outlets in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.
For more information, visit their website at www.verryberryhoney.com or phone 1-780-662-3577.