The brand’s Organic Raw Native Honey and Organic Raw Native Honey infused with Tea Tree will be sold in about 40 Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California by April.
This will cover major cities of San Francisco, San Jose (Silicon Valley), and Oakland.
Prior to the offline entry, the brand has been selling its full range of honey products and bio-fermented probiotic concentrate in the US online on Amazon over a year ago.
The company is a subsidiary of ASX-listed Eve Investment and specialises in producing Meluka honey, which is produced from bees that harvest from the Melaleuca Alternifolia species of the tea tree.
On the other hand, its honey probiotic concentrate contains six probiotic strains, including lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The product claims to benefit the gut and could be taken on its own, mixed with water or added to drinks and smoothies.
“We originally met with Whole Foods Market during the Expo West conference in Anaheim…At that point, they had just about a year prior being purchased by Amazon.
“Because we are a new brand in the US market, they suggested we look at Amazon and if we can prove ourselves on that platform, they will consider us and so we went with that strategy which was core to our strategy of ‘digital first’ anyway to build our reputation.
“[This also] made those conversations with the big distributors and brick-and-mortar chains a lot easier,” CEO of Meluka Australia and COO of Eve Investment Ben Rohr told NutraIngredients-Asia.
In last March, the company hit record sales in US Amazon during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Its raw honey products were ranked the top 20 bestselling honey products.
The company also sells the products on its own e-commerce website and on the online Faire marketplace in the US.
In its AGM presentation last November, the US is the company’s largest market, with 56% of sales coming from the region, followed by Australia (29%) and China (14%).
“We launched over a year ago on Amazon and had tremendous success and we kept them informed of that success…And during the first opportunity that they had took to update their sweeteners and their brand for honey, they added us into their core range,” said Rohr.
The partnership with the Whole Foods Market will allow the company to reach out to consumers with a higher spending power who could afford premium organic products.
“Generally, Whole Foods Market establishes their brick-and-mortar stores in the higher income per capita region of the US.
“They have a strong reputation for store experience that's focusing on sustainable, organic and whole food products.”
Supermarket and COVID-19
Despite COVID-19 bringing down foot traffic, Rohr pointed out that the supermarkets remained less affected, which was thus a viable channel for increasing the brand’s exposure in the offline market.
“There is still foot traffic going to the supermarkets to get fresh foods and when you go to an experiential store like Whole Foods Market, our branding and presence within that environment is really great for our brand regardless of whether the customers buy it there at the store or turn around and buy it online via Amazon.
Consumers can also buy the products online after coming across the products in the stores.
“We always have a digital-first strategy and we always meant to complement that with offline.
“Given Whole Foods is owned by Amazon, there will be a lot of cross benefits between the offline and online channels in the US,” he said.
Key consumption patterns
Activity of online consumption of their products in the US showed that over half of the consumers were females in their mid-30s to 40s.
Rohr said this group of consumers mostly bought the products for their families’ consumption. However, men also made up a sizeable proportion, forming 43% of the total number of consumers.
The company hopes to expand its offline footprint by working with Whole Foods Market’s network of more than 500 stores across the US in the future, and also considers the possibility of working with other retail partners.
In APAC, the company said in last October that it has expanded its presence in China, while Japan, and Singapore have been earmarked for future exports.
Elsewhere in Europe, it is interested in entering the UK and Germany markets via Amazon.
The company believes that by leveraging its US reviews and rankings in the Amazon marketplaces, it will be able to rapidly establish the validity of its products.