Packaging is an essential element of response to address key challenges of sustainable food consumption and waste management across the world and a crucial aspect of delivering sustainable products and services is, sustainable packaging.
Cherish Fruit world, an innovative agro-processing company aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, pocket-friendly products, reducing waste as well as food safety issues by packaging their honey in biodegradable sachets.
We reached out to Alex Kipchichir, the commercial manager at Cherish fruit world to shed more light on their new venture of packaging honey in sachets as well as their future prospects.
Here are the excerpts:
- Tell us about cherish fruit world
Cherish fruit is an agro-processing company whose mission is to enrich a healthy lifestyle through providence of naturally processed products. The company was started in 2012 with a vision of processing naturally grown fruits into juices, fruit powders and fruit bars.
Unfortunately, that whole process required a lot of capital and so in 2016 we shifted our main focus into selling honey which required minimal capital investment and management.
2. What inspired your new project of processing honey into sachets?
On the onset, brokers would come, buy honey from us at very low prices, repackage and then sell it at very higher prices
. It was not until April this year when the Covid pandemic brought us an opportunity to focus on improving our overall business model. We saw an opportunity not only to empower and partner with the farmers around us during and post the pandemic but most importantly offer the nation a more hygienic and convenient option to consume honey.
In addition, we saw that there was a very big gap in the market in terms of packaging in that there were no smaller packs of honey. We began packaging them in 10gms sachets which are also more affordable to low income consumers who can purchase a single sachet for as low as Ksh.8
Another concern was the hygiene issues in hotels and restaurants, especially during this pandemic period. When most restaurants serve you the famous mixture of ginger, lemon, hot water and honey best known as dawa, they tend to serve you honey on the side and in case you don’t end up consuming it all, it increases the cost as a result of increased wastage and in some instances, it leaves room for unethical handling which is is a health concern for unsuspecting consumers.
One challenge that the product has also solved for hotels and restaurants is that with precise packaging of 10gms (stock item) they are able to control their product costing and manage their inventory more accurately.
Another inspiration emanated from a very relatable challenge to every consumer which is access to pure/raw honey at affordable rates and in a consistent manner. The market is flooded with unscrupulous traders that are solely motivated with making money and thus we saw the gap to build a lasting relationship cemented on trust on the ‘tiara honey brand’ with our consumers.
Most importantly ours is a story of empowerment and we believe in embracing technology and innovation to offer sustainable agribusiness solutions to our eco system. We believe that together with the community of farmers around us we can achieve great things by taping into our collective abilities.
3. Are the sachets sustainable and what’s the packaging set?
Yes, they are very sustainable given the fact that our current packaging is 80% biodegradable. Though we are now planning on improving its quality by making it 100% biodegradable and also using returnable glass jars for packaging bulk orders.
As much as we would like to use glass jars, they are disadvantageous in that, they restrain your honey usage and also they tend to be a bit pricey for an average consumer.
We package our honey in 10gms sachets which are sold either individually at retail shops, or as a box of 240gms (24 sachets pack) 450gms (45 sachets pack), and 1Kg (100 sachets pack) targeted at hotels and restaurants.
4. Compared to other providers in the market, would you say you guys are more affordable?
We are definitely the most affordable in the market since we have broadened the spectrum to cater for low income earners with low disposable incomes and thus cannot purchase the honey currently sold in the market in jars of 250gms-1Kg retailing at an average price of Kshs.800/Kg whereas we offer the 10gms sachets which can be bought as a piece at Kshs.8 per sachet.
Our pricing is comparable. But if you consider the extra value that comes with our packaging, you derive more value since you get our pure and raw honey at a more hygienic and convenient pack.
5. How has the market response been so far?
The market response has been very well so far given that we have only been in it for three months since we ventured into the sachet packaging. I would say our conversion rate is around 40%. This means that out of every 10 outlets that we approach, 3-4 of them purchase our products immediately. In return, our promise to the consumers is to always guarantee consistent raw and pure honey with the most efficient customer service. Ultimately we promise to achieve exemplary customer service and to our B2B we promise to contribute to their strategic growth pillar.
6. Given the nature of your business, would you say that Kenyans are gravitating towards a healthy lifestyle?
For sure they are. These days Kenyans are willing to spend an extra shilling to achieve a healthy lifestyle, especially with the current pandemic. It has made most people rethink their lifestyle and hygienic choices and now they are gravitating towards a healthy lifestyle and this has been very beneficial to the business.
7. What are some of the benefits of being under the Agribiz program?
The AgriBiz program is beneficial to us as it creates an opportunity for us to meet with other investors. Also, the technical expertise and financial support are beneficial to us.
8. Any Challenges?
Currently one of the main challenges we are facing is the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected our main target audience the hospitality industry.
In addition, since we sell pure and raw honey it easily crystallizes especially at extremes temperatures of below 14 degrees which is the case here during this quarters we are in (May-August). Most consumer are not aware of this natural property and the general assumption out there is that crystallized honey is adulterated.
9. Future plans, are you planning to expand nationally?
Currently, our main profit centre is Nairobi, we are looking to expand nationally by June 2021 and supply our products across Kenya.
In two years, we will expand regionally across Africa and internationally by the end of 2023.
Finally, aside from being the largest honey brand in Africa, our main vision is to replace processed sugar with a more natural sugar-honey. We are on a mission to give honey the value it deserves by uniquely and conveniently packaging it-you don’t have to look bad to be genuine.