This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture… The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping
Celebrate UrbanBees with Bee Culture and thedailygreen.com For details, visit www.thedailygreen.com/bee-photos.
CATCH THE BUZZ
Our Previous message from Apimondia was by Malcolm Sanford, from his blog Here. Check it out for more information later. This message is from Ron Phipps, Co-Chair of the Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health, author of several books on the subject and an International Honey Broker. His articles are featured in both Beekeeping Journals in the
International Honey Market - Challenges and Opportunities
September 17, 2009
Ronald P. Phipps
President, CPNA International, Ltd.
Co-Chairman, Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health1. Introduction
During the past decade, which opens the new millennium, there has developed an unprecedented appreciation of the vital role to agriculture played by the world’s pollinators, principally the honey bee. This increased awareness has occurred along with deepening sensitivity to the vulnerability of the world’s bee populations. It is estimated that up to one third of the world’s food supply is dependent either directly or indirectly on the activity of zoological life to pollinate botanical life. In some countries, such as
The phenomena of colony collapse disorder (CCD) has elicited the attention of the honey and beekeeping industries, the mass media, and the ministries of agriculture in many nations, underscoring the seriousness of developing effective efforts to protect the world’s population of honeybees. These issues far transcend the interest of beekeepers. Large scale modern agricultural practices have led to the development of extensive migratory beekeeping and the subjugation of bees to mono-diets. These 2 factors may play an important role in increasing the vulnerability of the bee populations to viruses, mites, and other stresses.
2. World Honey Production
The world’s production of honey is experiencing significant shifts from traditional patterns. The qualities, types of honey, and the prices are subject to many variables. These include the impact of the increased volatility of global climatic patterns. The ocean’s waters were just reported to have increased 1 degree. Such a change requires an enormous absorption of energy. Noble prize physicist Stephen Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, has reported that the 10 hottest years in recorded human history have occurred during the past 12 years. The increased temperature differentials between sea, land and atmosphere have led to increased unpredictability, volatility and severity in weather patterns. In turn, this volatility has led to increased droughts, floods, cold spells and wildfires. This year
California, the U.S. Midwest, and
Worldwide honey production has been estimated at 1.3 million metric tons. The distribution of production among the continents was reported, in 2001, as follows:
North & Central America 16%
The general appraisal is that the 2009
California has suffered 3 years of extreme drought and
The total number of hives in the
Canada is experiencing winter losses, extremely cold weather and a very cool spring that persisted into mid August. There is some hope that a surge of better weather in late August may bump the Canadian crop up to 23,500 metric tons (50,000,000 lbs.). The late crop is predominantly ELA honey from thistle and wildflower. Due to the cool spring and summer, the Canadian canola bloom was extended as canola loves cool weather. This also means that the canola content of Canadian white honey continues to increase.
As is well known,
Recent reports at Apimondia indicate that weather forecasts are for a return of El Nino which should bring ample moisture during
The overall difficulties in feeding the world’s population have also led to significant increases in the production of grains, especially soybeans, corn and wheat. This has resulted in the conversion of pasturelands with clover and alfalfa fields into soybean and wheat farmlands. The energy crisis is also leading to significant increase in the production of biofuels, which threatens to reduce the cultivation of the types of botanicals which are favorable to the production of honey suitable for table, food service and baking.
3. Factors influencing markets in consuming countries
In 2008, the
In 2007, the consumption of honey in the European Union totaled 310,000 metric tons. Import prices in the EU have been increasing since 2005. The effective marketing of honey in Europe we may speculate is the foundation for the high level of per capita consumption in
In recent years, and most likely in future years, changes in currency rates will have significant effects upon the pricing and the international flow of honey from producing to consuming countries. The huge deficits in the
Antidumping petitions and rulings in the
We note that the efficacy of antidumping laws in the U.S. may change in that, as part of the condition for China’s ascendance into the WTO, antidumping investigations on China would be assessed for a limited period using surrogate country analysis (in this case India). Within a decade, if not before, the use of surrogate country analysis for
Nonetheless, as is well known, the antidumping rulings against Chinese honey in the
It is clear to many that there has emerged in
The Indian government in late 2008 issued a prohibition against the export from India of Indian honey blended with honey from other countries. In June of 2009 the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture issued a monitoring program designed to protect the quality of honey and to prevent export of transshipped honey.
4. Honey Testing
As global patterns of the movement of honey between consuming and producing countries change, the need for preventing adulteration, contamination and mislabeling of country of origin has become an acute international need. Tracing honey back to the beekeepers who collect it is becoming a concern for governments and honey buyers around the world. Assessment of unadulterated and safe honey poses serious scientific challenges. The international honey trade will need to develop international science-based standards, which in turn requires global science. Since there are multiple variables including floral sources, environment, climate, elevation which influence the chemical profiles of honey, international cooperation becomes increasingly imperative in order to establish a data base of authenticated and fully described samples of the world’s honey. Scientists from the FD A, it is relevant to note, issued a research protocol which states:
“Variations in a product, such as honey, can come from differences in geographical origin, botanical source and processing technique. If the database is not representative of the particular commodity, then the method will be valid only for samples covered by the database. . . The goal of this project will be to collect honey from producing countries and determine the chemical compositional data for these honeys. . .This information will enable us to establish a range of compositional values for honeys from around the world.”
Honey is a byproduct of the complex interaction of botanical and zoological life and multiple metabolic and synthetic processes are involved in the creation of honey. There can be a multiplicity of chemical profiles of the honey produced within a given country, such as sugar, isotope ratios, color, flavor, pollen, etc. At the same time, there can be highly similar profiles for honey from different nations, especially among adjacent countries or regions. The complexity of these variables is illustrated, as Dr. Joseph Bowden, former head of the referee laboratory for the USDA’s honey loan program, pointed out, by the fact that carbon isotope ratios of American honey dramatically differ, based on samples gathered in the first and second year of the study, reflecting differences in aridity and humidity. Unfortunately the data from the second year was not published.
It is also the case that honey is a very dynamic and complex product. In given commercial lots of honey, and even within commercial drums of honey, if the honey contains multiple floral sources, there are different rates of crystallization which lead to extrusion of both moisture and protein from bottom layers to upper layers. This means that establishing authentic and representative samples of honey is complex. If we are to authenticate the origin of honey a more comprehensive data base is absolutely necessary. The establishment of such a credible and comprehensive data base requires scientific analyses conducted by university, government and private researchers.
Since bees, like other biological organisms, are vulnerable to disease, and furthermore, purely natural and genetic means thus far are inadequate to protect bees, beekeepers throughout the world must use miticides and other chemicals to protect the bees. This means that honey does not dwell in a realm of absolute purity, devoid of residues. There needs to be international cooperation to establish safe standards, testing parameters and testing levels, as exist in most countries for poultry, meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables. In assessing both health benefits and health risks, medical science requires reference to the average daily intake (ADI). The international flow of honey will require international cooperation to confront the facts and establish standards that will allow beekeepers to protect their bees and food manufacturers to protect the health of consumers.
Many medical practitioners realize that as instrumentation becomes ever more sophisticated, to the point of being able to detect parts per 10 billion, the dilemma of testing the test, rather than testing for health risks, emerges. This is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, whose presence no one acknowledges. We must confront the facts and bring a science-based approach so we can both protect bees and human consumers of honey.
5. Honey and Health
There is a golden opportunity for the use of good science as a marketing tool for communicating the benefits of honey to manufacturers, retailers and consumers. The Committee for the Promotion of Honey and Health was established in 2007 in the
In January 2008, the Committee held the first International Scientific Symposium in
Dr. Ron Fessenden and I, as founders and Co-Chairmen of the Committee, have begun discussing the possibility of a second symposium to be held in 2011. We note that other industries, such as the almond and tea industries, have greatly increased consumption and prices obtained for their products in large part because of the establishment of effective health messages. Some of the initial research indicates that honey may be beneficial for cough suppression, weight management, brain health, and sleep duration. Research on honey and its relation to major diseases is taking place in various countries. For further information, please see the website www.prohoneyandhealth.org.
6. Marketing of Honey to the Consumer
The international honey industry presents great opportunities for more effective and creative marketing of this wonderful product of nature. When we look at the markets for wine and tea, we see a tremendous surge in consumption over recent decades. These natural products have woven into their marketing strategies several important themes, including:
1) the wide variety of qualities and diverse flavor profiles offered;
2) the beauty and geography of production;
3) the diverse modes of consumption; and
4) health messages that have emerged in recent decades.
All of these marketing strategies are available for honey. Some countries, especially in
Compared to world cane and beet sugar consumption, world honey consumption is less than 1%. In terms of per capita consumption, in the
Marketing studies consistently show that when products are sold inexpensively, consumers’ perception of the value and intrigue of those products declines. The average retail prices of honey have increased in the
Honey has the potential to more fully participate in the growth of natural and organic foods. In a very comprehensive way, honey is part of the global movement towards green foods that are environmentally friendly. Indeed, the production of honey is essential to the vitality and health of the global environment.
7. The Future
When we reflect upon the global macro economic and political trends over the past few centuries we witness increased international interdependence, cooperation and integration. The emergence of the European Union, the WTO, the North American Trade Agreement and ASEAN bear witness to this trend towards economic integration. The cumulative future consequences of global economic integration will include an inevitable reduction in tariff trade barriers, non-tariff trade barriers and agricultural subsidies. There will need to be a corresponding strengthening of international law in order to ensure that international trade is conducted with fairness and integrity.
The mathematical theory of geometric fractals is revealing that large scale integration of living organisms and social organizations leads to greater efficiencies in the utilization of energy, i.e. less natural resources are required as inputs to achieve the same or greater outputs. The global trend towards higher levels of integration, interdependence and cooperation is an irreversible historic trend.
As a result of the above considerations, the international honey industry will have to adjust in at least two major ways. Firstly, we need to preserve the incentive to produce and the incentive to consume honey, and keep all segments of the industry, including producers, exporters and importers, packers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers functioning as healthy segments of this large interlaced network. Secondly, the past practice of seeking to attain competitive advantage by erecting barriers to restrict supply must be superseded by effective marketing strategies to increase demand so that it stays ahead of global supply. A creative transformation is essential to achieving both increased demand and increased remuneration for honey, with its intriguing diversity of qualities, its health benefits and its roles in both providing a natural and delicious sweetener and feeding the plan et.
The future of the honey industries in all the major consuming countries will depend upon enhanced international exchanges, including on beekeeping practices, the development of the honey and health message, and the marketing of honey in respect to its marvelous diversity and its enduring romance.
This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, and on October 5, 2009…Bee Culture Goes Digital! Watch for more information on Digital Bee Culture, The Paper AND Digital Magazine Of American Beekeeping