Me Today’s board might need to take some vitamins from the company’s range to support their energy levels after facing a verbal pummelling by shareholders at a boisterous annual meeting today.

The meeting opened with chair Grant Baker reminding attendees that the Me Today products on display at the front of the room were there as an exhibit only and were not to be taken home at the end of the meeting – something that had happened in past meetings.

Baker then delved into the challenges the company had been facing and what Me Today was planning to do about them.

He said the acquisition of the firm’s King Honey business had provided “challenges” to the group due to the overstocking and performance of its largest customer, which operates in the Chinese market. 

“The resulting reduction in sales, together with the successful 2022 harvest, created cashflow pressure,” he said.

As a result, Me Today did two capital raises during the financial period and restructured the King Honey business.

A total of $13.5 million in total was raised in two separate capital raises, with the largest shareholder, MTL Securities – Baker, chief executive officer Michael Kerr and Me Today’s chief financial officer Stephen Sinclair’s holding company – contributing $7.95m to the raises.

“We’ve put our money where our mouth is,” Baker told shareholders.

Bye-bye bees

Due to the “significant” volume of honey stocks, Baker said the group had cut down on its beehives and reduced the cashflow draw created by next season's harvest, which meant closing the company’s Kaitāia, Kerikeri and Blenheim beekeeping operations. 

Me Today now has about 4,000 hives in the Wairarapa and Central Plateau, a quarter of the 16,000 hives it had previously, and has reduced the 40 beekeepers on the payroll to 12, Kerr told BusinessDesk.

The cuts had helped reduce the cost of the harvest by about $5m per annum.

The business still has almost 45 employees across all its operations.

Baker said Me Today had strengthened its relationship with its key mānuka honey customer that operates the Chinese channel partner BEE+ and there were positive signs of growth.

Sales were “not at the level that we want", Baker said, but Me Today had received purchase orders of $1.6m of BEE+ products, which would ship in January and February.

Me Today’s results for the 15-month period ended June 30, including the 12 months of trading of the King Honey business that Me Today bought in 2021, saw net revenue of $8.3m and a loss after tax of $19.5m.

Question time

Shareholders had a lot of things on their minds that they wanted to share – so much so that after close to 45 minutes of peppery and peevish queries, Baker told attendees that they’d been able to ask enough questions and took the microphone away, to laughs and sighs from the audience.

It was mostly CEO Kerr who answered questions directed at the board, drawing on his experience – and patience – as he tried to satisfy shareholders.

They were less interested in Me Today’s vitamins and much keener to hear about its mānuka honey supplies, which were currently sitting at 500 tonnes, Kerr said.

There were concerns from shareholders about the honey’s shelf-life, when Me Today was struggling to get it to market.

Kerr was quick to reassure them that mānuka honey increased in value over three to four years before it started to decline.

Baker said lockdowns in China hadn’t helped the company but on 11/11, the biggest trading day of the year, they’d seen a “solid” result.

Kerr said Me Today products were now in chemists and pharmacies around New Zealand, including Chemist Warehouse, Bargain Chemist, Countdown and select Unichem and Life pharmacies.

He told BusinessDesk that Me Today realised its success in getting stocked in NZ’s pharmacy retail sector showed it could also jump into Australia's pharmacies.

Independent director and accountant Hannah Barrett – the wife of All Black Beauden Barrett, who is also a Me Today ambassador – was at the meeting along with other members of the board. 

Richard Pearson was re-elected as a company director.

The company’s shares, which have fallen more than 75% to 1 cent over the past year, were still sitting at 1 cent late afternoon today.

The caption has been corrected to show Stephen Sinclair is pictured, and the number of employees has been corrected.