By Manik Mehta
NEW YORK, June 15 – A Malaysian beekeeper and honey-producer has been presenting a novel honey product – the Stingless Bee honey – at the ongoing three-day New York Fancy Food Show (NYFFS), rated as North America’s biggest event for the food industry and considered by foreign trade experts as a path to penetrate the lucrative American food market which is considered the largest in the world in value terms.
Hisham Yusoff, CEO/Managing Director of Bayu Gagah Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd, based in Kulim, told the Weekly Echo in an interview at the NYFFS that this type of honey, which has a sweet-sour taste, is rich in anti-oxidants and has a “wonderfully healing effect on the human body”.
For Hisham, consuming this honey had become a “necessity”: because he had been advised by a honey expert to consume it in order to check the progression of his poor health. However, after he saw the “miraculous healing power” of the honey, he became passionately involved in bee-keeping and honey production.
“I started bee-keeping in 2014. I had become interested in it because someone advised me to consume the honey in order to combat my chronic ailment which was affecting my brain and impairing my speech. I had developed brain aneurysm as a result of which I had also lost my job and also could not perform any basic functions, let alone work in a company. But after taking that honey for a few months, I noticed a marked improvement in my overall physical and mental constitution and now I feel I have put the dark period behind me,” Hisham claimed.
He has since then become an advocate for the Stingless bee honey and “wants others to benefit from its unique nutritional properties”. He maintains that this honey has four to ten times higher levels of anti-oxidants than the normal honey. “Unlike most other honey products, this has a tangy taste…it is sweet and sour.”
“My vision is to bring the stingless bee honey, a superfood, to the world. It has lower Glycemic Index (GI) but is packed with very high anti-oxidant properties that make this the perfect natural food for healing,” he said.
Hisham participated in the NYFFS for the first time. His company had to enroll as a member with the U.S. based Specialty Food Association which organizes the food shows in New York and also in Las Vegas. “Our product was tested by Ruttgers University,” he added.
Besides exporting to the U.S., the other major markets of Bayu Gagah are Japan Taiwan, China and Australia. Hisham said that some 20 percent of his company’s exports are meant for the U.S. market where the company also has a distributor called Enes Corp. in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
Hisham described the first two days of the three-day show as fruitful. “We have had queries from buyers interested in ordering large quantities. This trade fair has also revealed to us a few things about American buyers and how they do business. I understand the new channels that could be tapped for doing business.
“We have now registered ourselves with Amazon, Walmart, Soulberry Market in Pennsylvania, etc. We are also looking at food chains, collaboration with chefs to popularize our honey and also with food manufacturers to use our honey in their products.”
The show also provides indicators about the evolving culinary tastes of American consumers, enabling food exporters to modify their products.
The American consumers, according to Hisham’s observation, have become more health conscious; consequently, many foreign suppliers are concentrating on supplying food products that appeal to buyers in this lucrative market.
Although Hisham’s company was the only participant from Malaysia at the NYFFS, Hisham’s experiences and story could be an inspiration for others who are also eager to start or increase their exports to the United States.
Hisham also showcases his product at various other international trade fairs, including at the FoodExp (Japan), Taipei Food Exhibition, (Taiwan), Thai Food (Thailand), Natural Food Expo East (Pennsylvania, USA), and SIAL (Paris).
“We are also going to participate at the Fine Food 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. But I must admit that I am very happy at my company’s participation at the New York Fancy Food Show.”
Disclaimer: Any claims made in the article on the medical/health benefits from the use of the Stingless Bee honey are based on the experience of the interview subject and are not professional medical advice for similar medical conditions.