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snack break | Honig – 150 years of family meals

In 1876 Honig introduced the Italian cuisine to the Netherlands. Nowadays the Honig brand is in two third of the Dutch kitchens and has become a true household brand. For more insight into Honig, we talked with Tanja Kempen, Senior Brand Manager for KraftHeinz Company. She spends most of her efforts building and boosting their iconic Honig band within the meals category. She also worked for some of their other (local) brands such as Brinta, de Ruijter, Venz, Heinz and Wijko. 

What learnings have you taken from your former job and is applicable to your current position?

Before KraftHeinz, I worked at several other companies in the FMCG industry. I started my career working for Heineken International and Unilever, where I experienced the opportunities and challenges working for a big corporation and learned the basics of brand management.  In 2012 I entered a traineeship at FrieslandCampina, where I took on a commercial and analytic role. During those years I learned a lot about the commercial triangle (sales, category, marketing) and experienced the dynamics between those three disciplines. My final year at FrieslandCampina I was an expat in China, where I learned a lot about cultural differences and the softer motivational skills. My experience at these companies helped me a lot for my job at KraftHeinz. Every company culture is different and all have pro’s and con’s. It’s a gift to be able to cross-pollinate based on my previous experiences and share my knowledge in new environments.


What is the origin of Honig?

Over a 150 years ago Klaas Honig bought a factory in Koog aan de Zaan and introduced Italian cuisine to the Netherlands. He entered the global arena in 1922 with the introduction of vermicelli. During the second World War Honig had a vital function, as the factory was used as a bomb shelter during nightly air raids. Through innovative means of producing alternative products, like surrogate coffee and tea, Klaas Honig adjusted his portfolio to the needs of the Dutch families and kept the factory running during times of war. Ever since Honig helps Dutch families to provide a nutricious, healthy and, above all, tasty evening meal for the family. A real family brand. Nowadays we’re present in two out of three kitchen cupboards in the Netherlands with one of our 150 products. Above all, I am very proud to say: we are the number one most valuable Dutch food brand (Kantar research 2019)

Can you describe your typical Honig customer?

It’s is most likely Dutch families. They are definitively our most import audience. A lot of parents struggle in their daily routine to cook a nutritious meal, which is to the liking of every family member, without spending hours in the kitchen. Cooking with Honig enables them to prepare their favourite dish, add a to of vegetables and ensure the great taste for the entire family. Especially today, consumers are cooking more at home and are looking for help and inspiration in their weekday-dishes. 

What are your key goals for the brand, and are you looking to reposition the brand’s messaging?

My key goal is to stay relevant while not losing track of our brand roots and heritage. The categories in which we currently operate did not show growth over the past years, which means that we need to take action to keep our portfolio and brand future proof. We are not a “foodie-brand” and we will never be, but we are making sure that our products are relevant, as healthy as possible (low in salt, high in fibers etc.) and of course bringing the unmistakable family-favourite taste to your evening meal.

Have you refocused efforts as a result of COVID-19 and what has your response been?

We did not ‘refocus’ as such, but we definitely felt that we had a responsibility, being a Dutch family brand with a strong heritage in our market. Especially at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to help those who did not have access to a nutritious meal every night. For over 20 years we’ve been partners of the Dutch Foodbanks and we simply gave them a call to understand how we could help. Together with the help from our partners, we proudly set up the national fundraise-campaign “Stay Safe and Geef” and as a follow-up organized the first national digital charity concert “Live-Eet”. It has been an amazing experience and I’m very proud of the total amount of 1 million euros, which was donated to the Dutch Foodbanks through these campaigns. This means that – together – we helped a lot of families in need.

After these beautiful initiatives, we continued our efforts and started a collaboration with Thuisbezorgd and Compass group. We noticed that a lot of parents, while working from home, struggled to prepare a nutritious evening meal.  We wanted to provide them with an affordable, freshly made, healthy and delicious meal for the family, delivered to their doorstep. That’s why we’ve set up “Honig Vers Bereid”, currently available in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. For less than 5 euros per person, we supply a freshly made Honig meal for the whole family. If it remains a success, we will expand to other cities and keep delivering our dishes.

What is your favourite way to use Honig?

It might sound boring but I just love Italian food. So my favourite dish is a Honig whole-wheat spaghetti with our wet herbs and spices paste for spaghetti. I add a lot of vegetables, some parmesan cheese and a nice glass of red wine.

Anything to add?

I just like to thank you for our amazing partnership with Chuck Studios. I think a lot of companies underestimate the value of true partners, who really go the extra mile to help each other. I’ve recognized this in everyone I’ve met from Chuck Studios and like to thank you for that. If you have any creative ideas, suggestions or a very strong opinion about Honig you want to share, feel free to reach out to me. I’m always open for good ideas.

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