Date of this Version
Gustafson, C.R., Champetier, A. Could Information About Honey Fraud Increase Consumers’ Valuation of Domestic Honey in the Face of Rising Honey Imports in the U.S. and EU? Yeutter Institute International Trade Policy Review, June 28, 2023. https://yeutter-institute.unl.edu/could-information-about-honey-fraud-increase-consumers%E2%80%99-valuation-domestic-honey-face-rising-honey
The consumption of honey, which has been sought out by humans for use as food and medicine for thousands of years, has been increasing in recent decades with rising incomes and attention paid to food choices and health. In two decades, honey consumption in the U.S. has risen from 1.2 pound per capita per year to 1.9 in 2021. In the European Union, per capita consumption rose from 1.5 to 2.1 pounds per capita over the same period. While this might appear to be a boon for U.S. and EU beekeepers, honey is a heavily traded product, and imports from large producers such as Argentina, China, Brazil, or India have captured much of the demand growth on U.S. and European honey markets. The two regions are now the two largest importers of honey globally, with 20% of all traded honey going to the U.S. and 40% to the EU, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s trade data for 2015-2020. The figures below show that imported quantities have grown to surpass domestic production in both regions. In the United States, from where exports are small, over 60% of honey available for consumption is imported. Trade and production figures in value terms confirm the growing presence of imports in the two markets but also reflect the fact that imports are more often used in manufactured products and fetch lower prices than domestic honeys on average. International trade increases the variety of products available and lowers the prices for consumer products. However, for certain food items, including honey, consumers face a risk that imported products have been purposefully adulterated—predominantly with low-cost alternative sweeteners—and/or mislabeled.