Friday, 4 July 2014

Capitalising on liquid gold

SOME say the finest, most expensive honey in the world is Sidr honey that comes from the valley of Hydramaut in Yemen.

“You should not short change yourself by buying and taking processed or treated honey.

“Sidr honey is well-known around the world and the honey is made by bees that only feed on the nectar of the Sidr tree, in the Hadramaut region of Yemen,” said Johari Abdul Wahab, who is the biggest importer of Sidr honey in Malaysia.

Johari has been importing tonnes of Sidr and Sumur honey from Yemen, under the brand name “Rayhanah”, over the last three years through his company Rayyan Salsabila Enterprise.

The Sidr or jujube tree is considered sacred and has been used for its purported medicinal propertiesfor centuries. Real Sidr honey is harvested only twice a year when the trees flower.

To appreciate Sidr honey, you have to understand the history of the trees says Johari.

The ancient Sidr tree is also known as Lote tree, Christ’s Thorn, Jujube or Nabkh tree.

History has it that the jujube fruit was the first thing Adam ate when he was put on earth. The wood from the tree was used during the time of Solomon and the Pharaohs to build palaces and temples.

All parts of the Sidr tree are said to have medicinal value. The leaves are used as herbal shampoo, to treat dandruff, head lice, swollen eyes, abscesses, and reduce obesity. The oil from the resin can be used as a deodorant while the wood ash is used for the treatment of snakebites.

The fruit of Sidr tree is said to be high in energy and the seeds rich in protein. The root and stem bark are also used in various traditional medicinal preparations such as an appetiser, astringent and also as cough medicine.

“The bees feed exclusively on the nectar from the Sidr tree, which grows in the mountainous areas and the valley of the Hadramaut region.

“This is the story of Yemeni or Hydramaut honey, as it is often called, for the last 7000 years. The prized Sidr honey is unadulterated and raw.

“That is why it is nutritious and full of goodness to keep you healthy,” said the 35-year-old religious teacher who learnt about Hydramaut honey after studying in Yemen for three years.

As Johari tells it, one fine day, he received a call from a Yemeni friend, asking him if he was interested in distributing and marketing Sidr and Sumur honey from Yemen.

“It happened just like that. And I thought to myself, it would definitely be a good business venture. Besides helping people gain access to the best honey, I’m also doing my part to promote healthier eating,” said Johari who stocks all the honey in his shop in Bangi, Selangor.

Johari says the unique flavour of Sidr honey practically sells itself The minute the customers get a taste of the honey, they are hooked forever.

“It has been a wonderful venture for me so far and more customers are placing their orders. Word of mouth and social media contributed the most to the initial marketing.

“It has been absolutely superb because many people believe honey has medicinal value,” said Johari who later roped in his mentor and consultant, Zulhisham Ayob of Al Shofa Management & Consultancy and owner-operator of Pustaka Ilmu Islam, to help out with the marketing strategy.

Putting in place a clear action plan, a good marketing strategy and realistic goals, Zulhisham used his experience in the media and marketing industry to raise the profile of Rayyan Salsabila and make Sidr honey more appealing to the urban market.

Although he declined to elaborate, Johari says the financial results have been very encouraging.

The company now imports more than 30,000 tonnes of Sidr honey a month.

“We have hired a few people with a special set of skills to help Johari with marketing the honey. So far, we have been getting favourable results and a tremendous demand for the product,” said Zulhisham, 55. The former senior marketing manager for Celcom and Colgate was the one who suggested the honey be sold in more attractive packages and honey sticks.

The flavour of Sidr honey was what drew Zulhisham to repeat his order and finally volunteer his expertise to Johari. After buying a bottle of the honey, he now swears by it.

“I’m sure many people are like me. Once they have tasted Sidr honey, they will not want any other honey. Sidr honey has a luxurious taste. It is unadulterated and the flavour is smooth and thick. It is rich and unforgettable. People who have tasted this honey will be spoiled and will not want any other honey,” he said.

For Johari, the fact that he gets the honey straight from the beekeepers in Yemen, who happen to be his friends, helps to confirm the authenticity of the honey he sells.

“Our premium honey is sourced from beekeepers I trust and know personally. In fact, over the years and while I was studying there, I have been to the place where pure Sidr honey comes from — the Wadi Do’an (Do’an Valley) and the mountains of Hydramaut where thousands of beekeepers converge. This is where the thorny Sidr trees grow and also the birthplace of Yemeni honey for thousands of years,” said Johari.

Apart from the taste, quality is the most important factor when buying Sidr Honey.

“The thickness of our honey has been proven. It is not mixed or adulterated with water or mixed with any other type of honey.

Some say Sidr honey helps with conditions like sinus problems, coughs and colds, sore throats, stomach ulcers and digestive problems. In fact, some people believe Sidr honey is an aphrodisiac and also boosts the immune system,” Johari says with a chuckle.

“Different kinds of honey differs in their composition, nutritional values and their therapeutic properties.

“The climate when the honey is being harvested and soil composition are key factors in determining the colour, flavour, aroma of honey and how it tastes,” said Johari.

“You can’t consume ordinary honey and expect miracles to happen. The honey has to be really pure. Only raw, unprocessed honey has proven to be effective,” said this enterprising Johari who also distributes high quality black seed oil known as Habatus Sauda and pure olive oil.

A bottle of 1kg Sidr honey costs RM600 and Sumur Honey RM330.

Tags / Keywords: Hydramaut Honey

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