Family enjoying sweet taste of success

Honey Bunny nominated for Alberta Business Award of Distinction for marketing

Honey Bunny is using marketing strategy to market its products, which are being recognized across Canada for excellence.

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Honey Bunny Inc. has been selected as a finalist for the 2020 Alberta Business Awards of Distinction.

The family company based in Guy is the only Peace region business nominated for an award.

Businesses in 13 categories were chosen from 269 submissions who all exemplify business excellence in Alberta. The finalists were announced on April 17.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen as a finalist for this award. It is an honour to be nominated alongside the other businesses in the marketing category,” Honey Bunny’s sales and marketing manager Paige Wolfe says.

Other marketing award nominees include Banff Sunshine Village, Superior Show Service in Fort Saskatchewan, Stringam LLP in Lethbridge, and MCSnet in St. Paul.

“Being located in the Peace region is a core part of what makes our business successful. It is the best place to raise bees and the community that rallies behind us is absolutely amazing,” Wolfe says.

“It also forces us to be more creative in terms of what we offer to consumers – the labour force and increased transportation costs of our location will never allow us to be the least expensive product on the shelf, so we are forced to create innovative and high quality products to win over consumers.”

Paige and her sister Taylor joined their parents and founders Gilbert and Sharon Wolfe at the family business two years ago. Their brother Brett also started helping a year ago.

“It has been amazing to work as a family, because we know how each other best operates we are able to make concise decisions more quickly and pivot when we need to,” Wolfe says.

“We never imagined that we would all end up working together in the family business.”

Wolfe says her father encouraged all of his children to gain experience elsewhere, but they knew Honey Bunny Inc. was something they could always come back to.

“Watching our dad create something so special from scratch [he started at 16 working out of a granary in Girouxville] was a strong pull to come back to our roots in Guy. Developing new products really is a team effort, and watching this come to fruition in the marketplace gives me great pride,” Wolfe says.

These days, Honey Bunny Inc. products can be found nationally across Canada at retailers including Costco, Federated Co-op, Wal-Mart, Save on Foods, Loblaws, Metro, and Sobeys.

Some of the company’s popular products include a line of condiments such as barbeque sauce sweetened only with organic honey and packaged in stand up pouches.

“We chose pouch packaging because we felt the need to differentiate ourselves and provide innovation in a very saturated category. In choosing this unique packaging, we were also able to improve transportation efficiency and reduce our environmental impact as the pouch packaging is much lighter to transport both to and from our facility,” Wolfe says.

“Our customers love it because they can get all of the sauce out, and because it takes up less space in the fridge.”

The company’s jars of Peace River Honey have also become an instantly recognizable and trustworthy product on store shelves across the country.

“In the recent years we’ve turned our focus to regional branding – honey produced in the Peace country truly is special [Honey Capital of Canada due to the long hot days and abundance of sweet clover] and being able to call this out with our Peace River Honey branding has been a focus of ours,” Wolfe says.

“I think now, more than ever, people are choosing to support local and want to know where their food comes from – we hope to build trust in our consumers through our story,” she adds.

Wolfe says her family works hard to keep their company friendly and personal. Wolfe demonstrates the products at local retailers in order to keep getting feedback from stores and customers, and her parents’ story and picture is included on product labels, the company website, and social media.

The company is continuing to innovate. Honey Bunny Inc. has just launched a new bee pollen product with Costco Canada.

“To be launching a second product with Costco is something we never dreamed of. We are really proud to be sharing what we love with people across the country,” Wolfe says.

She says bee pollen is a superfood that contains nearly every vitamin and mineral necessary to sustain life.

Honey Bunny Inc. has managed to continue on despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wolfe says her family is extremely grateful to still be working together.

“We are certified to the highest level of food safety [Global Food Safety Initiative], and so our food safety standards have always been and will always be very high – with COVID we have implemented further precautions to include masks in addition to the gloves, hair nets, and smocks that our team already don. We are closely monitoring staff for COVID symptoms to ensure everyone remains healthy. We’ve refreshed our training and the team has been amazing in all of this,” she says.

The company has also implemented staggered break times to reduce the amount of people in certain areas at the same time, and gave all employees a $2 an hour raise starting at the beginning of March.

“We also announced a grocery program wherein we will pick up their groceries to help to further reduce any unease or exposure for our team,” Wolfe says.

Wolfe says her family’s company recently donated $1,000 to the local FCSS food bank to help those in need in these challenging times, sharing their success with the community.

The Alberta Business Awards of Distinction would have been held in June, but may be announced earlier due to social distancing rules affecting events.

Meanwhile, Wolfe says people can follow the company online for recipes, product info, special offers, and bee facts daily.

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