Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

A honey of an idea!

John and Susan Rowe pose with their award winning line of honey products.An innovative idea that started with a sticky, messy honey pot accident on a camping trip has now resulted in a unique food product winning international culinary acclaim, including top prize at the world’s largest food exhibition … and success couldn’t be sweeter for PEI’s Island Abbey Foods, proud producer of a speciality line of unique honey-based food products.

The Charlottetown-based company’s Honey Drops™ product was recently awarded the 2010 Global SIAL d’Or prize — the Paris-based Oscars of the food industry — for Best in Canada Award, Best Grocery Sweet, and Best World New Food Product.

Honey Drops™ —along with the company’s entire line of Honibe™ products — are made unique thanks to an innovative process that removes moisture so they keep their honey look, taste and sweetness without the sticky mess. 

And it all began with a sticky accident. 

While hiking in Western Canada, company owner John Rowe discovered that a glass jar of honey had shattered in his backpack. The gooey mess sparked an idea: making solid, no-mess honey. 

It took John years of experimenting, and custom engineering his production equipment, but the result was the world’s first natural, non-sticky honey product — a valuable food innovation not lost on today’s global food market.

“We started working with ACOA after small scale production proved there was a market for our products,” explains business partner Susan Rowe.
“When our sales began to grow quickly and it was apparent that we were outgrowing our pilot plant, ACOA then helped fund our move to our own facility where we could have all aspects of production and sales under one roof.”

She says the assistance for ensuring a factory-fit up specific to their needs was essential to the growth of the company, which now produces ten times the volume they did in their old facility.

“We now have our own lab which allows us to continue creating and launching new products,” she says. “And, we have several more products in the R&D stages which we’re very excited about!”

Today, with their 25 full time and part time staff, Island Abbey Foods is distributing its diverse product line to over 80 countries around the world, and parlaying the limelight of the Global SIAL D’Or award into additional partnerships that promise to help them expand their markets and product lines internationally.

For John and Susan, success couldn’t be sweeter.

Story Updates:

Island Abbey Foods Ltd. pitched their brand of 100 per cent pure dried honey products on an episode of CBC television’s popular “Dragon’s Den.” Click here to view the results of the pitch, which aired January 19, 2011.

Click here to view a video conversation with John Rowe, president - Island Abbey Foods.

Initially published in 2010