Founder Christy Goldsby created the original recipe for Honey Mama's in 2013, selling her wares at the Portland State Farmers Market in inventive flavors including lavender rose (the brand's current #1 selling SKU), Peruvian raw, and ginger cardamom.
Noticing increased consumer demand for premium chocolate, Goldsby explained the concept and targeted market white space for Honey Mama's was to create something that was both decadent and nourishing for consumers.
Chocolate perceptions and purchase drivers
Consumer research fielded by Cargill in February 2021 surveying 600 US grocery shoppers, uncovered that aside from being an indulgent treat, chocolate may have a larger role to play in the better-for-you foods category. According to the company's findings, nearly seven in ten consumers surveyed associated chocolate with health benefits, while 52% perceived it as healthy.
"The way that we view our bars is that we’re essentially the category pioneer that’s bridging the wellness bar and the chocolate bar [categories]. It’s a chocolate confection experience with all the wonderful health benefits that you get from wellness bars," Goldsby previously told FoodNavigator-USA.
'Are your products at Whole Foods?'
Shortly after its appearance at farmer's markets, the product took off in regional retail circles launching into the Whole Foods Pacific Northwest region in 2014, and in September 2020, the brand raised its Series A funding of $4.5m, and brought its store count to over 2,400 locations.
However, Goldsby was hearing from first hand from customers who were searching for Honey Mama's products at their local retailer that the brand needed broader distribution.
"Years ago, when I started demoing the product at trade shows, one of the most common questions I would get was 'Are your products in Whole Foods?' Being a national brand with Whole Foods opens up availability in new distribution centers that so many independent retailers count on and uplifts the natural foods channel as a whole," said Goldsby.
The national expansion will make Honey Mama's available at over 500 Whole Foods stores across the US marking the brand's first national distribution deal.
"Expanding to national distribution affirms what Honey Mama's has been doing for years – creating the highest quality premium product that leading retailers like Whole Foods know they can count on to thrive at the national level. This vote of confidence unlocks tremendous new potential growth across the business," said Honey Mama's CEO Jared Schwartz.
Whole Foods stores will carry three of the brands SKUs: lavender rose (featuring organic raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, dark cocoa, shredded coconut, and lavender essential oil sprinkled with edible red rose petals); tahini tangerine the newest variety in the Honey Mama’s lineup (launched in March 2020) made with toasted sesame butter, tangerine oil, crunchy cacao nibs, and organic raw honey mixed with smooth dark cocoa; and Peruvian Raw (one of the brand’s first flavors) containing antioxidant-rich Peruvian raw cacao powder and nutrient-dense sprouted almonds creating a smooth a crunchy texture.
Made from raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, cocoa or cacao powder, Himalayan pink salt and either sprouted almonds, shredded coconut, or sesame seeds without preservatives or shelf stabilizers, Honey Mama's products can be found in the refrigerated section of retail stores.
"By nature of being a refrigerated treat, we're nudging people to ask themselves, 'Why is this here and not in the shelf stable chocolate aisle? What are the ingredients and why?" said Goldsby.
"National expansion at Whole Foods provides the opportunity to pique more curiosity and be more accessible."