When the COVID-19 lockdown plans were announced the team at Taupō honey exporter Zealandia Honey were in shock. “Our first thought was, no way, this can’t be happening right now” says Sri Govindaraju, Head of Marketing and Sales at Zealandia Honey. “We were right in the middle of preparing a big order for United Arab Emirates, and had finalised another order for a new client in Saudi Arabia. Honey drums were coming in from different parts of the country and we needed more packaging and labels” says Sri.
After several intense days of planning, re-scheduling, and creative thinking, Zealandia Honey was able to get their production line back on-track. “We sent all our suppliers a letter explaining our status as an essential business and how we had adapted our operations to meet the COVID-19 requirements. It was important to reassure our contacts that Zealandia Honey had government approval to operate and that we were taking the situation seriously” says Sri.
The company’s flexible business structure has helped the company adapt quickly. Prior to the lockdown the team were already working remotely, catching up in person for weekly team meetings and client appointments. Therefore, it’s been a relatively easy transition to have meetings over the phone or on video conference. “We see ourselves as a cloud-based honey company. We don’t have our own beehives, factories, or storage facilities – we make use of the extra capacity through the network. We believe that collaborative approaches like this are a great way to grow collectively as a community and it also greens our economy” says Sri.
Zealandia Honey has experienced an increase in enquiries over the last month due to the known health properties of New Zealand honey. “Honey isn’t antiviral, so it won’t protect against COVID-19 directly. But is it antibacterial. It’s a good way to boost your general health” says Sri.
Sri’s advice for businesses during these challenging times is to be open-minded. “You may have to change your processes and look for new options. It won’t be perfect, and there will be things that are out of your control. Everyone is under pressure right now and it’s really important to keep communication open and recognise that this is a difficult time. Look after your team and be patient with your supply chain. And don’t underestimate the power of collaboration!”