Jeremy Friend and Sharyn Woodnorth’s story began with discovery. On a long drive south from Auckland to Christchurch, a new enterprise began to form after sampling honey offerings from roadside stalls and by the time the pair reached Christchurch, the business plan for J. Friend and Co was born.

What is your company background, how did you start the business?

We started J. Friend and Co in 2008 after selling our previous food company and moving from Auckland to Christchurch. We loved honey and were frustrated by the generic, over processed and poorly packaged product on the market. We were also frustrated that the best New Zealand honey was being shipped in bulk overseas and potentially blended with other honey thus destroying its unique flavours, textures and colours!  We started the business in an old butchers shop and through trial and error slowly learnt the art of creaming and processing honey. Although the business is growing, we still do all our processing and packaging in small batches by hand. We believe this is the only way we can maintain the unique properties and benefits of the honey.

What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?

We produce a range of 160gm glass jars of single varietal honey which includes Beechwood Honeydew, the only naturally runny honey available in New Zealand; Manuka, Pohutukawa, Lavender, Wild Thyme, White Clover, Kamahi, Rewarewa, and Vipers Bugloss. We also launched a range of squeezy honey designed for everyday use. Our unique cap design with a shut off valve ensures no drips and no mess and is easy to use.  The honey in these squeezy bottles, unlike the majority of other honey packaged in squeezy bottles, has not been overheated or fine filtered to achieve its pour consistency so the natural benefits of the honey are maintained. We have also just launched a range of single serve packs, perfect for when you are on the go and require an instant honey energy boost!

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?

We will continue to expand our business and introduce other new and innovative honey based products.

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?

Our honey is available throughout New Zealand. We are focusing on expanding our range of stockists so our product is more widely available through a selection of outlets.

Entries are now open for the 2016 New Zealand Food Awards, register your interest at http://www.foodawards.co.nz/.