Sep 03 , 2019
Though launched just a few months ago, there’s already a buzz surrounding Northern Pantry – innovators of a range of cruelty-free, plant-based honey alternatives.
Northern Pantry was created after its co-founders Benjamin Culff and Dillon Smith, both from Blackburn, watched a documentary – More Than Honey – about bee survival.
They were compelled to action after learning how the mass production of honey could be contributing to a decline in bee populations.
“It all started last year when Dillon and I went on a sustainable kick,” says Culff.
“We watched lots of different documentaries and from there, we developed an interest in bee culture.
“On average it takes around 6,000 bees to fill one jar of 250g traditional honey.
“Bees are often harmed in the honey gathering process.
“We felt we needed to come up with something that would give the bees a bit of a break.”
Culff further explains that mass production of honey can result in unethical policies, such clipping the queen bees’ wings to prevent them from leaving the hive.
Bees can also be killed or have their wings and legs torn off by haphazard handling.
In addition, some bee farmers replace the farmed honey with sugar syrup, which is far less nutritious and can lead to health problems for the bees.
Culff says: “As an ethical alternative, our products can be used in exactly the same way as honey. They’re organic, perfect for vegans and those with allergies.”
Culff and Smith spent months perfecting recipes for three different flavours of honey alternatives, working from a local Lancashire community centre and at home, before selling them at markets across the north of England.
A small investment from family members enabled them to purchase the necessary equipment and materials.
Both men have “day jobs” but dream of making the Northern Pantry passion project a full-time occupation.
They were therefore delighted to be nominated by their customers for a competition, designed to boost small and medium sized businesses in the north, run by Heart and Yorkshire Bank.
Gavin Opperman, Group Business Banking Director at Yorkshire Bank, says: “We remain committed to helping businesses across the North to grow and thrive and this competition was a fantastic opportunity to reward hardworking local small businesses, which form the backbone of the North’s economy and enrich communities.”
Now whittled down to one of just five finalists, Northern Pantry is one step closer to the first prize – a £10,000 cash injection which would enable them to ditch their day jobs.
Culff says: “By winning we could continue to help the local community. We ensure that everything used in the products – bar the sugar – is sourced within 60 miles of Lancashire and is as sustainable as possible.”
The Northern Pantry website was launched in early June and the next challenge is to drive more traffic to the site.
The prize money would also enable them to move into their own premises and expand the product line.
“The Yorkshire Bank prize money would really help as we’re looking to expand to proper premises,” adds Culff.
“We live and breathe Northern Pantry and would love to be able to do this full time.
“We want to give something back rather than take, take, take. For every jar sold we give 10p back to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. So in buying our product, people are actively supporting the wider community.”