Kiwi entrepreneur York Spencer founded MANUKEE while working in Thailand in the FMCG industry. York had seen the success of New Zealand Manuka Honey while based in Asia, and saw an opportunity for a café style, ready to drink product with NZ Manuka Honey for the Asian market, aimed at consumers looking for a quick health boosting fix.

Using Manuka Honey from beehives located in the remote Central Volcanic plateau area of New Zealand’s North Island, MANUKEE is available in two flavors, Elderflower & Lemon, and Ginger & Pear.

Research into the Asian market showed packaging made a significant difference at the point of purchase and was considered a critical consumer touch point. York has developed a highly differentiated honey hive shaped bottle for MANUKEE, which has received very positive feedback in consumer testing.

However, important to being part of a New Zealand brand story was the need for the product to be produced in New Zealand. Being based in Bangkok, York needed a facility to manufacture in New Zealand that could take on a remote project, was certified export, as well as being confidential and independent.

The Foodbowl was able to meet these requirements, and York was able to schedule a small scale trial production run in June 2014, with the aim of proving the process, shelf-life attributes and the taste profile of MANUKEE required for the Asian market.

The team at the FoodBowl were able to give MANUKEE technical advice on batch sizes, processing options and techniques, as well as provide guidance on compliance factors both domestically and for overseas markets.

York now has access to an export friendly commercial New Zealand production facility ready to host export production runs when the time is needed, and has gained new insights into processing technologies and certification required for exporting.

MANUKEE’s profile has also benefited greatly through using the FoodBowl. The MANUKEE product has been showcased through case study presentations to influential members of the food and beverage industry of New Zealand as well as exporters.

York is now dealing with an export agency that has placed its first container order, which means the company can undertake further production and development work.

“The Foodbowl is the perfect incubator for someone like me wanting to do small trial production runs” says York. “It’s an inspiration for Kiwi food and beverage innovators.”

York also has his sights set on developing more projects in the future and is working with capability providers that The FoodBowl has connected him with.