Through times of trial and prosperity Percy’s entrepreneurial flair and innovative spirit saw Arataki grow to become a leading honey producer and exporter.
In the early years it took guts and determination. In the 1946 season no honey was produced at all. It was one of the driest years on record, and drought, inexperience and bee diseases combined to almost wipe out the fledgling company.
The 1950s was a period of growth for Arataki Honey. Honey prices were controlled and at very low levels. Many beekeepers who established their enterprises after the war couldn’t make a viable living from 300 hives or less. Percy Berry took a long-term view and believed low prices would be cyclical. Hives could be purchased at very favourable terms and at zero interest so Arataki bought up many small beekeepers and expanded the business to over 5,000 hives. A delivery van grew honey distribution through the middle and lower North Island.
The Honey Marketing Authority was established in 1953 to control all exports of extracted honey. Comb honey was not subject to the Honey Marketing Board controls so Arataki Honey produced hundreds of tonnes of comb honey for export to the UK and Germany.
Through the 1960s, expansion continued and a second processing plant was established when Russell Berry, Ian’s brother, moved to Waiotapu, 20km south of Rotorua. The Rotorua division is still managed today by Russell with his wife Annette and son Mark.
In the 1970s, Britain entered the EEC making comb honey exports more difficult. Percy's entrepreneurship saw him develop alternative markets in the Middle East, and frequent trips to Iraq and Yemen were rewarded with large orders. At the same time, kiwifruit became big business in New Zealand and Arataki Honey was there, providing hives for pollination throughout the Bay of Plenty.
The Honey Marketing Authority disbanded in 1985, leaving individual companies to negotiate their own export sales. Arataki Honey, in both Havelock North and Rotorua, were significant businesses in their own right and agree to operate as separate divisions under the Arataki brand. For the Hawke’s Bay branch, further expansion continued with the purchase of Ashcroft's Honey. In Rotorua, Arataki Honey pioneered the export of live bees into North America using air cargo. Today, this continues to be a significant part of the business.
The 1990s was a boom time for Arataki Honey. The company began packing honey under licence using the Honeyland brand, exporting product into Japan. A nationwide distribution of the brand through leading supermarkets was also established. Arataki "Squeeze Me Honey™" was released to the market as a convenient dispenser of liquid honey and this continues to be Arataki’s number one best seller. Publicity on the health benefits of UMF manuka honey received worldwide attention and stimulated demand for manuka honey in general.
The presence of the varroa mite in New Zealand in the 2000s had major effects on Arataki and on the honey industry in general. The beekeeping industry responded with good management practices in controlling the parasite.
But it was also in the 2000s that Arataki Hawke's Bay grew their community and public presence by investing in a purpose-built visitor and education centre in Havelock North. This development is part of further upgrades to processing, packing and staff facilities.