Meli was established in 1925, when the then 18-year-old Alberic Florizoone began cultivating bee colonies in his parents’ garden, the yields from which he sold to local shops and villagers. The young entrepreneur went on to win first prize for his honey at the 1930 Antwerp Exhibition.
The company continued to expand its operations throughout Belgium, finally becoming a national brand in 1960. By 1995, the Meli brand was given a new edge with the introduction of its innovative ‘squeeze’ bottle, which garnered appreciation from honey enthusiasts across the globe.
Today, Meli works with international beekeepers in order to offer its customers a broad assortment of flavors, including specialties like eucalyptus, acacia, lavender, and lime honey. With help from its partners in Latin America, Asia, Southern and Eastern Europe, Meli produces over 10,000 t of honey annually.
“Our honey comes from all over the world under the same trusted brand,” explains Koen Steurbaut, General Manager at Meli, “meaning that our customers can enjoy the features of remote varieties with the assurance that our products are 100% natural – nothing is added or taken away.”
In addition to its diverse selection of honey, the Meli brand also offers complementary products, such as wafers, sweets, and chocolate spreads. Meli’s range of honey products has countless applications, spanning marinades and dressings to mouthwatering sauces.
With inspiration and recipe ideas available on Meli’s website, the possibilities are endless. “I’ve spent a big part of my career in the food industry,” says Mr. Steurbaut, “and I’ve never come across such a versatile ingredient.”
When asked about his go-to recipe, Mr. Steurbaut is quick to respond, stating: “There is no question that my chicken skewers with Meli orange blossom honey have become a summertime barbecue party favorite.”
Moreover, honey has experienced a resurgence in terms of its application as a natural remedy for a number of ailments like the common cold and allergies, or even as a topical antibiotic. For precisely this reason, Meli offers numerous specialty honey-derived products.
Meli’s melapi cough bonbons come in several flavors and offer relief to sore throat sufferers, while Meli’s royal jelly is gaining traction for its healing properties as both an antihistamine and probiotic. The full extent to which honey can be employed as a home remedy has yet to be determined, but one thing is for certain – honey is unrivalled as a natural superfood.
With just 53 employees, the Meli Company generates more than 46 million EUR in sales annually, with exports across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Steurbaut enumerated several key factors for the sustained success of Meli’s business: “Most importantly, our main product, honey, is natural and timeless,” adding, “beyond that, we have an established family business that favours a long-term corporate strategy as well as lean management, quick decision-making and an open door policy.”
Regarding its long-term planning, Meli has elaborated four clear-cut objectives to achieve by 2020. In the next few years, the company plans to introduce some innovative products to the market, expand into new geographic regions, drive automation in production and digitize certain aspects of its operations.
Furthermore, in order to guarantee the continued wellbeing of its internal organization, Meli has dedicated substantial resources to invest in its staff through comprehensive education and training programs. With the rise in pesticides and climate factors threatening the welfare of bee colonies around the world, the Meli Company has taken a firm stance on the importance of environmental sustainability throughout its operations.
As an alternative to indiscriminate chemical pesticides, Meli has outfitted its outer walls with nesting boxes, which attract kestrels as their long-term residents. In return for their rent-free accommodation, the birds offer an economical and ecological solution to pest control. This is just one of the many ecoinitiatives Meli has supported in order to ensure future generations have access to nature’s most beloved food product.