Bee Free Honey – Apple Honey

Bee-Free-Honey-Shark-TankLike many good ideas, Bee Free Honey was invented by accident. Pastry Chef Katie Sanchez was trying to make apple jelly and she screwed up, but what she discovered was she’d created a honey substitute. After many tries at recreating her mistake, she perfected the method of making an apple-based honey substitute. She’s been selling her product, Bee Free Honey, at Whole Foods Markets, on Amazon, and other natural grocery stores for several years now and she hopes to net a Shark as a business partner in episode 721.

Essentially, Bee Free Honey is a “plant-based, sustainable, liquid sweetener made from organic apples.” Honey bees have been declining in population in recent years, causing the cost of traditional honey to rise. Bee Free offers an alternative flavor profile that’s perfect for vegans (who don’t eat honey), kids (who are more susceptible to botulism in raw honey), those allergic to real honey, or someone who wants a new ingredient for their recipes. Bee Free Honee is interchangeable with regular honey in any dish you could imagine.

Sanchez keeps it real. She only uses organic, Michigan-grown apples and all her manufacturing and packaging is done locally in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They call it “Honee” and not “Honey” so consumers won’t get confused. While Sanchez has some success already, an investment from a Shark could catapult Bee Free Honey to national status. Will a Shark “bee sweet” on Bee Free?

My Take on Bee Free Honey?

I’ve used maple syrup as a substitute for honey before. Other honey substitutes (which I have not tried) include yacon root syrup, coconut nectar, date paste, and Stevia-based products. Bee Free Honey is the only apple-based honey substitute on the market –  I don’t know if it’s patented, but I am sure Sanchez isn’t being free with her recipe!

Honey is something we always keep in our house. My wife’s cousin keeps bees in British Colombia and she sends us a jar or two several times a year. I use it in barbecue sauce and other sauces and occasionally spread it on some toast. I like honey and, although I never tried Bee Free, I am sure I’d like it, too. At twelve bucks a jar, it’s on the pricey side, but so is real honey. I will try this product when I can lay my hands on some, I am IN.

Are Sharks Sweet on this Product?

Sanchez has a great story and she’s a big advocate for saving honey bees. The product, according to reviews, is excellent, too. All this may impress the Sharks, but sell-through where she’s on the shelves will be what they are interested in. Bee Free Honey is a mature business – they’ve been around since 2009 – so they should have some sales. If growth is steady and on an upward curve, she could field offers.

What will kill Sanchez in the Tank is if she gives the appearance of being a hobby business. Anemic sales, up and down growth or other business “horror stories” will sour the Sharks quickly on this business.

That said, the company is boasting about a “new and MUCH improved website,” (their emphasis) on their Facebook page. Their eCommerce platform is on Shopify – which used to be a GUARANTEE of a deal, but more entrepreneurs are wise to the benefits and robustness of this platform. I think Sanchez gets a deal though; the product appears to be that good!

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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