Defiance, Iowa -­ Store brands are becoming a staple in the world marketplace. One in every four products sold in 2013 was a store brand label, accounting for $1 out of every $5 in sales and totaling a record $112 billion. Smitty Bee Honey of Defiance, Iowa is now offering private label brands. They will be launching this new division at the 2014 Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) trade show in Chicago, Ill. from Nov. 16th through Nov. 18th.

“We have a long-standing reputation for quality, ethically sourced ingredient honey,” said Smitty Bee Honey President, Tony Schmitz. “As a nationally recognized honey packer, we have been approached by several different stores about private labeling and co-packing. Significant facility and employment expansion in the last few years have positioned Smitty Bee perfectly in this expanding market.”

As consumers continue to look for high quality and value in private labels, Smitty Bee Honey is able to provide the retailer with pricing, package sizes, design and honey variety options. In addition, Smitty Bee pays close attention to consumer demand. This offers stores the ability to expand their honey and sweetener sections with unique and different items through sales promotions and working with category managers.

“We offer flexible packaging for retailers with a variety of choices, including glass,” Schmitz added. “Glass is clean, classy and trendy. We are also able to broaden sweetener categories through packaging of rare honey varietals, agave, maple syrup and molasses. Add to that our Organic, Kosher and SQF Level III certifications coupled with short lead times, and retailers can really see the value of having Smitty Bee Honey package their products for private labeling.”

Smitty Bee Honey will be in booth F1942 at the PLMA Store Brands Reality Trade Show, held at the Rosemont Convention Center. For more information, contact Smitty Bee Honey at 888.469.4669 or

About Smitty Bee Honey:
For over four generations, the Schmitz family has grown their passion for beekeeping and honey into one of the nation’s leading industrial honey supply and packaging businesses. With a strong reputation in the food service and retail industries, Smitty Bee Honey continues to grow, while maintaining the small-town values, hard work and customer commitment that has been the foundation of their brand.

Defiance, Iowa -­ With roots dating back almost a century, family-owned Smitty Bee Honey has always recognized and honored their rich company history. The southwest Iowa company is celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a honey packer this year.

The business has come a long way since LaVern “Smitty” Schmitz’s father-in-law purchased a simple beekeeper’s starter kit in the 1920s. LaVern’s son, Doug Schmitz, started marketing the company’s products as Smitty Bee Honey in 1989. Soon after, Doug began packaging honey for retail distribution while also producing honey. In 1991, the company purchased a small building on Main Avenue in Defiance, Iowa, and started marketing honey to fruit markets, apple orchards and small grocery stores. In 1994, Smitty Bee Honey was working with a local food manufacturer who was looking to source honey as an ingredient. As demand for honey as an ingredient continued to rise, the focus of the company shifted.

Throughout the 1990s, bees began dying off at alarming rates around the world due to what is now known as colony collapse disorder. The beekeeping industry in Southwest Iowa also suffered due to farming practices and adverse weather changes which caused honey yields to deteriorate further. Each year, sales exceeded production and Smitty Bee focused more attention on packaging honey. By 1995, the company was purchasing a majority of their honey from other producers in the Midwest and sales continued to grow rapidly. In 2004, Doug decided to focus solely on packaging honey and Doug’s son, Tony Schmitz, joined the company as General Manager. Smitty Bee has since developed into one of the nation’s leading bulk honey suppliers with a strong reputation in the ingredient, food service and retail industries.

The company has a long track record of providing quality products and has invested heavily in product innovation, unique packaging, facilities and quality control. Smitty Bee plans to continue elevating their commitment to quality, ethical sourcing and investment in new technologies. Smitty Bee’s dedication to quality honey not only applies to their safe food handling procedures, but also carries through to their facilities. To accommodate growing customer demands, facilities were recently expanded by adding 20,000 sq. ft. The new space houses a retail production room, additional warehouse space, new offices and an employee center.

Smitty Bee is planning an employee and business relations event as part of their 25th Anniversary celebration to highlight the past, present and future of the company. The festivities are tentatively scheduled to take place at their Defiance, Iowa, location in late summer.

Defiance, Iowa -­ Smitty Bee Honey recently released two new retail brands of honey. Golden Harvest and Cosecha de Oro (the Spanish translation of Golden Harvest) have been developed for sale at select retail chains and are available for purchase in a variety of sizes and container options. The brands are the first additions to the company’s existing family of flagship Smitty Bee Honey products.

Cosecha De Oro is a particular focus for Smitty Bee, something the company designed specifically with the Hispanic population in mind. This single sourced wildflower honey is hand selected from a variety of bountiful wildflowers found on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It boasts a light amber color and harbors a unique, full-bodied flavor that can only be found in authentic Mexican honey. Based on initial positive response to the product, the company is exploring the possibility of offering a Cosecha De Oro organic label in the next year.

The company has kept price conscious shoppers in mind as well. Smitty Bee Honey’s Golden Harvest brand is budget-friendly, making this honey perfect for large batch, multi-purpose baking. A unique combination of international extra light amber honey with a mild, smooth flavor, Golden Harvest is also an excellent choice as an alternative sweetener to sugar.

In addition to traditional plastic packaging, the new honey brands are being made available for purchase in glass containers to cater to customer preferences. Smitty Bee is one of only a few companies in the nation that offer a glass packaging program. They have invested in bottling line equipment and implemented safety measures that allow them to package high volumes of honey utilizing glass as an option.

“We are excited about the release of these new products as it’s allowing us to reach new audiences with our honey,” said Smitty Bee President Tony Schmitz. “This also showcases our company’s private label capabilities, which is an area of our business that is poised for significant future growth.”

Defiance, Iowa -­ Smitty Bee Honey continues to take their already high­quality honey to new heights. The rapidly growing honey packer and producer was recently awarded the prestigious and difficult to attain Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3 certification, a level only a handful of companies worldwide have achieved. This achievement indicates a comprehensive implementation of food safety and quality management systems, further establishing Smitty Bee’s commitment to producing honey of the highest standard.

Smitty Bee completed the rigorous review process and obtained certification through the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), requiring a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)­based system. Recognized by retailers and foodservice providers around the world, the system and SQF seal will give buyers of Smitty Bee Honey assurance that food safety programs in accordance with HAACP are in place across all operations. Furthermore, it will continue to ensure that the company consistently delivers the high quality honey that it has become known for.

“This seal puts us in a category that not many of our competitors are in,” said General Manager Tony Schmitz. “Being able to place the SQF seal beside the Smitty Bee Honey name and upon our products makes us recognizable as a company committed to quality and safety, principles that are the foundation of our business.”

In addition to the recent SQF achievement, Smitty Bee added a new face to their team in November. Project Manager Geri Birks will assist the company with overseeing operations as well as provide management support. Birks brings both finance and marketing experience to Smitty Bee with a BSBA in Finance from Creighton University. Her previous work experience includes acting as a trading manager for an online brokerage and serving as operations manager for a full service brokerage.

Defiance, Iowa — The team at Smitty Bee Honey continues to grow along with the company’s thriving industrial and retail business. The honey packer and producer has added five new faces thus far in 2013, bringing their total number of employees to 14. While the Schmitz family has been in the honey industry for several decades, they also recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary as Smitty Bee Honey, making this a landmark year for the company.

The first and most high profile hire of the year was VP Director of Sales Jim McCoy. McCoy works primarily with Smitty Bee’s corporate customers, promoting the benefits of utilizing the company’s high quality honey as an ingredient in addition to their custom blending options and private label capabilities. Having held previous senior sales positions with other key players in the honey industry, including National Sales Manager and VP of Industrial & Retail Sales, McCoy has extensive experience working with national grocery chains and mass merchandisers.

In addition to McCoy, Smitty Bee has added Administrative Assistant Jessica Meseck, whose duties include customer support and scheduling inbound/outbound deliveries. Terry Erwin, Karl Ezquerra and Mayra Luna have also joined the Smitty Bee staff to assist with bottling and loading operations.

The employee growth parallels the rise of Smitty Bee’s corporate sales, but also their retail business. Local honey lovers can purchase Smitty Bee Honey in regional retail stores or place direct orders by calling their Western Iowa headquarters. Smitty Bee is looking forward to continued expansion in the coming months, as operations will soon extend into a custom-built 20,000 square foot facility expected to increase overall production capacity by fifty percent.

Defiance, Iowa — Smitty Bee Honey is proving they haven’t lost touch with the activities that led to the beginning of their now nationally recognized business. The company recently purchased 10 colonies of bees to raise just as General Manager Tony Schmitz’s great-grandfather did nearly a century ago, continuing a legacy that remains important to the family-run operation.

Managing the Smitty Bee colonies is owner Doug Schmitz, a man who has been around honey production for decades. Doug, father of General Manager Tony Schmitz, checks the health of the bees, particularly the colony queens, at least once per week at their bee field just a few miles from Smitty Bee headquarters in Defiance, IA. When appropriate, he also rotates the honey frames to ensure the bees continue filling each section with honeycomb. While Smitty Bee’s expanding honey packing business demands the majority of their time, the Schmitz family appreciates the opportunity to be hands-on with bees and honey production again.

“We may have grown at Smitty Bee,” says Tony Schmitz, “but raising a few colonies of our own honey bees brings our 90 years of honey producing heritage back into focus. It reminds us about our company’s roots and founding principles, as well as how precious bees are and how hard it can be to produce just one pound of high quality honey.”

Honey production continues to face environmental challenges, including the threat of colony collapse disorder which may have affected four of Smitty Bee’s ten colonies this season. However, the news of a good honey crop this year is creating a positive buzz after flooding in western Iowa in 2011 followed by drought in 2012.

Defiance, Iowa — Smitty Bee, a leading honey packer and producer, takes their commitment to the environment just as seriously as they take their commitment to high quality honey. The operation makes the environment a consideration during every step of their honey production process, from energy consumption to its distribution chain to recycling used materials, all in an effort to protect the honeybees and ecosystems critical to its business. Smitty Bee is currently taking additional steps to be environmentally conscious during the construction of their new facility, which is being built with reduced energy consumption in mind.

The new 25,000 square foot addition to the operation features heated floors for the entire building, energy-efficient light fixtures, redesigned batch tanks, high efficiency ceiling fans, and a two-inch thick cooler panel for energy efficiency within the location’s climate control system. The company also recently installed a hot water boiler system 20 times the size of its predecessor that uses half the energy. Future building improvement plans include a new roof for the existing building designed to reduce heating and cooling usage by 20%.

Smitty Bee currently processes over 16,000 barrels of honey each year, all of which are shipped in iron drums. The drums and other scrap materials such as cardboard are compacted or compressed to conserve shipping space and recycled locally.

The company is also mindful of the environment when orders are shipped. To achieve a reduction in negative environmental impacts and costs simultaneously, Smitty Bee General Manager Tony Schmitz combines orders to build customer distribution channels wherever possible.

“Taking care of the environment is just the right thing to do,” says Schmitz. “There are no industry standards for environmental impacts, but Smitty Bee Honey and all of our employees take pride in holding ourselves to a higher standard in everything we do.”

Defiance, Iowa — As the popularity of honey continues to grow, Smitty Bee operations are growing along with it. The company is preparing to add approximately 20,000 square feet to their facilities in Defiance, Iowa, an expansion that is estimated to increase capacity by 50%. The new space will accommodate a retail bottling room, a research and development laboratory, offices and additional warehouse space, all designed with features to make the operation even more energy efficient.

With more and more consumers discovering the great taste and health benefits of honey, and food producers increasingly utilizing honey as an all natural sweetener, production at Smitty Bee has hit an all-time high. After over 80 years in the industry, the company has nearly tripled in size in the last decade.

As capacity and output grows considerably, Smitty Bee remains committed to high food safety and quality standards. This includes utilizing internal and independent lab testing facilities as well as a traceability program, while hiring third party auditors to monitor, verify and maintain honey quality. Smitty Bee also maintains ethical sourcing practices, employing a strict approval and certification process for suppliers.

Defiance, Iowa — Smitty Bee Honey recently made the day of a regional retirement community a little bit sweeter. The company donated all of the beeswax sheets from their candle-making operation to the nonprofit New Cassel Retirement Home in Omaha, Nebraska. The wax, valued at over $12,000, will be used by residents and volunteers to create and sell beeswax candles, allowing the group to raise funds that will help cover their expenses.

Smitty Bee also donated all of the candle holders and molds that remained in inventory from their former gift shop. While honey will continue to be available for individuals to purchase out of the front office at the company’s facility, their expanding operations will focus on enhancing retail production and industrial honey packing services.

Community stewardship is important to Smitty Bee. In addition to the New Cassel Retirement Home donation, the company regularly makes contributions to support the missions of a variety of local and regional organizations, such as fire departments, churches, and various fundraising programs.

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