The 3 elements – Hot, Southern, and Honey – are trending. Asian and Latin influences the last 30-40 years have globalized their flavor profiles. Spicy (Hot) food has become commonplace. All things "Southern" have appeal, especially food. Honey is especially attractive now because it is seen as a healthy alternative to over-processed sugars and artificial sweeteners. As consumers are looking for healthy and fun ways to flavor their foods, spicy honey is the perfect solution. AR’s Hot Southern Honey is now leveraging these 3 trends with a brand new family of products, award-winning honeys, sauces and a nut butter available in over 400 locations in 20 states.
AR’s business model has been traditional retail and food service distribution. They sell directly to consumers, as well as online and at events and shows, but their focus is on retail and food service. Given that they are no longer working weekend events, they’ve lost this business. Many of their smaller, specialty shops have closed or limited hours of operation. Naturally, they're seeing a drop in volume as people are staying at home. Grocery retail (versus specialty) has remained steady, as people seek out both stables (regular honey) and simple ways to enhance the flavor (spicy honey) of their food. Due to the amount of restaurants closing or limiting to carry out, this business has become a fraction of what it was. With all of these changes in AR’s market, the biggest shift has been a significant increase of online consumer sales.
Recently, AR’s has initiated more direct call-to-action social media posting to either drive traffic to retail customers or to their website. They’ve taken a number of other steps, including collaborating with other local producers and businesses to offer contact-free, doorstep delivered gift sets, aligning with a number of CSA's/Food Hub's who act as a middleman between producers, farmers and consumers through membership or subscription services, and they have reduced the amount required on their webstore for free shipping. Shipping is free on orders over $30, otherwise a flat $5 shipping charge. They have also started offering free, no-contact, doorstep delivery of products with minimum order in the greater Richmond area.
There is a lot of deserved focus on restaurants within the food space, and this needs to continue. It is crucial for families to continue to eat out (through take out orders), in order to help these restaurants sustain themselves. Luckily, the pre-COVID trend towards "local" has accelerated. As struggling, local food entrepreneurs who supply retail and food service, businesses like AR’s Hot Southern Honey are searching for broader recognition. Community support of local producers, stores and restaurants is needed now more than ever! Visit their website to learn more: www.hotsouthernhoney.com.