Our team visited Wedderpoon USA‘s headquarters in Malvern, PA and sat down with Founder, Fiona Nelson and Associate Brand Manager, Briana Belden. They gave us a tour of the quickly growing company’s new office and warehouse space before introducing us to the rest of the team. Discover the benefits of Manuka honey and learn the story of Wedderspoon USA, which got its start just up the road from Kimberton Whole Foods Malvern.
Wedderspoon was first established in Canada by fellow UK natives and Fiona’s good friends, Sébastien Martin and Catherine Wedderspoon-Martin. In 2006, just over a year after Wedderspoon Canada was founded, the Martins invited Fiona to lead the U.S. branch of the new company. Fiona accepted her friend’s invitation to begin a new and life-changing venture that would soon connect the company with top natural retailers across the country. It was at this point that Wedderspoon USA was established.
As the company continues to grow over the years, the Wedderspoon team has become its own family – a mix of of Fiona’s family members and close friends from the local community who all work together to help Wedderspoon thrive. “It all started up the street very close to Kimberton Whole Foods Malvern at Fiona’s house. Now we are almost growing out of our new space! Fiona’s son, Trey, and his wife work here as well. Fiona’s sister Allison, works as the sales manager. Two of Allison’s kids also work here, as well as Fiona’s other son. It’s very tight-knit here – everyone is really close,” says Briana.
What is Manuka Honey?
In its authentic form, Manuka honey is a raw honey made from the pollen bees collect from the Manuka bush. Throughout history, the Maori people of New Zealand, who first discovered Manuka, have enjoyed this flower for its many benefits. Related to the Tee Tree plant, this honey is sourced from the rare and beautiful flowers of the Manuka tree. New Zealand’s Manuka honey is a wonder of nature. It is considered one of the most multi-dimensional foods in the world, containing complex sugars, live enzymes and other naturally occurring compounds and is consumed daily by many. Over the last 25 years, its remedial power has became more widely known. In this short period of time, raw honey from the Manuka plant has become acclaimed for its natural antibacterial and healing properties, which are not present in processed honey.
From hive to jar, what makes Wedderspoon’s manuka honey unique?
Fiona explains that Wedderspoon’s honey is sourced exclusively from New Zealand, primarily from the South Island. Prioritizing the wellness of the bees that pollinate across the island’s wild landscape, the honey is harvested during North America’s winter season, which is the beginning of summer time in New Zealand. Throughout the harvesting process the manuka honey remains raw and unpasteurized. Aside from being warmed just enough to be extracted from the frames, it is never heated. The minimal use of heat maintains the honey’s powerful properties and keeps it “raw.” Once collected from the frames, the honey is put into drums before being tested for pollen count, which verifies that it’s pure Manuka honey. After the testing is complete, the honey is distributed into to jars, labeled and shipped directly to Wedderspoon’s U.S. headquarters.
How do you maintain the honey’s natural properties?
“Our raw honey is minimally filtered. There is no manipulation or further processing because if the raw manuka honey is heated, the live enzymes can’t survive. We also test for the live enzymes and the phenolic compounds, or the vitamins and minerals – that’s what’s really good for you. Our K Factor process tests for all of these properties to make sure they’re all present, plus the pollen count to make sure it is true Manuka honey. So that is one of of many criteria we have to make sure the natural occurring properties of manuka honey are present,” says Fiona
What are your favorite ways to use Manuka honey?
“I will take a teaspoon each day, or I will take a tablespoon if I am really not feeling good. Mixing manuka honey with some raw sugar and olive oil makes a nice skin exfoliant, since Manuka honey is a natural humectant that moisturizes your skin. It’s great mixed in smoothies too,” shares Fiona.
“I’ve used it on my face as a therapeutic mask. I always take it before I go on runs too. A lot of our customers use our Snap Packs before they go on long runs for to help sustain energy,” says Briana.
Did you know about Manuka honey prior to this?
Fiona: “No, I actually didn’t even like honey! Growing up I never knew what real raw honey tasted like, until I tried it later in life. We continue to learn from our customers almost every day when they call us to let us know how it’s helped them. So, in the beginning I didn’t know all of these things, but I have learned a lot over the years.”
Do you have any tips for people who want to incorporate Manuka honey into their life?
Briana and Fiona note that because of its many uses, Manuka honey is a great staple for both your pantry and your medicine cabinet, but proper storage is essential. Wedderspoon recommends storing your honey at room temperature and keeping it out of sunlight. For people who are just beginning to incorporate Manuka honey into their diet it’s best to start small, taking no more than half a teaspoon per day.
What do you think is the most rewarding thing about being a part of Wedderspoon?
Fiona: “I think Wedderspoon had a great deal to do with getting the word out about the benefits of Manuka honey in the U.S. I think learning about a whole new industry and growing the business is rewarding. We try to live a natural, organic lifestyle and to be sustainable and healthy. Our company is not about the bottom line – we are passionate about what we do. It has been grassroots for so long you can really tell everyone here cares. Working with my family is great. I have learned a lot about the natural and organic industry and find it very rewarding to be a part of that industry. My experience at Wedderspoon shows that someone at my age can choose to do something completely different and enjoy it.”
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