American beekeepers fear for the future of their business

On the shelves of US stores, the price of honey has almost doubled in the last 10 years. The skyrocketing demand for honey means prices in the United States have almost doubled over the past decade – so why are American beekeepers struggling to make ends meet?

David Bardshaw has been a beekeeper for almost half a century. Born in Pasadena and raised in central California, he bought his first 200 hives while still in high school. He then worked with his father until they each had about 2,000 hives.

With the average price of honey on US supermarket shelves rising to $ 8.09 (6. 6.48) per pound (454 grams) last month, from $ 4.66 in May 2010, do you think it is time for Mr. Bradshaw and his colleagues to prosper? Instead, many are on the verge of extinction, despite rising prices.

American beekeepers say they are fighting. The 63-year-old says:

“It’s hard, it’s hard to sell honey. “I do the work of separating honey from wax for other beekeepers, and since they too cannot sell their honey, they have difficulty paying me.”

American beekeepers at work - Attar Khan

“These days I only get $ 1.25 to $ 1.50 per pound of honey and prices go down even more. “To break prices, I have to be paid at least $ 2 per pound, which has not happened for about three years.”

So what is the cause of the problem?

There are several factors: From importing large quantities of cheap American honey from abroad to inadequate labeling laws, and even blatant fraud – honey is mixed with cheaper ingredients such as corn syrup.

A trip to any US grocery store indicates a problem with the honey label. Shelves with jars of honey stacked with the label “America Grade A” on them. So a patriotic American might think this is the best honey to buy. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the honey in question is from the United States.

The term “US Grade A” is a guideline issued by the USDA for certain criteria for honey, such as moisture, content, color, and transparency. Grades B and C are also available. So a grade A glass of honey can be labeled like this and then said to be a mixture of honey from a number of other countries.

The problem for American beekeepers is that they say their tipping point is $ 2 per pound of honey, while foreign honey can be imported for as little as 81 cents per pound.

The United States imports more than two-thirds of its honey from several countries, with India being its largest source, followed by Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil. So the people who make the most money from selling honey in the United States are honey importers and retailers, not domestic beekeepers.

However, Nicholas Sargantson, owner of Sunland, the largest importer of honey to the United States, points out that imports are critical to meeting demand.

“Imported honey is generally large because consumption here is more than 500 million pounds (227 million kilograms),” he said. [سالانه] And is only میلیون 150 million produced domestically.

While importing and selling foreign honey in the United States is perfectly legal if the source is mentioned, in some cases the country or countries of origin may be illegally concealed or labeled incorrectly. Honey may also have been secretly cheated, or may have been mixed with corn syrup or other cheaper ingredients.

Indian beekeeper - most US honey is imported from India - Attar Khan

Sweetwater Science Labs, an independent testing laboratory in Missouri, says about 35 to 40 percent of consumer honey tests over the past 18 months have been either counterfeit, or of poor origin or of poor quality because of over-processing. It has been: like overheating

“I have more experimental requests to confirm the origin of honey,” said James Gavinis, senior chemist at Sweetwater. [نه فقط از سوی مصرف کنندگان] “I have even seen smaller manufacturers and packages testing the origin of competing products.”

Fraud allegations have plagued the US honey trade for decades, and Mitchell Weinberg, executive director of the Food Fraud Detection Agency, Inscatech, says the situation is as bad as ever. I have done a lot of research on honey in the last 10 years and I can say with certainty that the problem of honey cheating is still very much today.

A jar can say “US A grade”, but then in lowercase indicates that the honey is from other countries.

The problem with the US honey industry in dealing with all this is that it is largely self-regulating, with very little oversight by the government.

Michael Roberts, executive director of the Roznik Center for Food Law and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, says the government needs to do more to oversee the US honey sector.

“There is not enough coordination between government agencies to control honey fraud in a way that makes it effective,” he said.

This discrepancy quickly became apparent when the US Department of Agriculture was asked whether its honey grading system should be strengthened. “The FDA has overall responsibility for food labeling,” the agency told the BBC [سازمان غذا و داروی ایالات متحده، که بخشی از وزارت بهداشت و خدمات انسانی ایالات متحده است] Is.”

The answer was similar when asked what it does about counterfeit honey: “Again, this is ultimately within the FDA’s jurisdiction.”

A spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the agency “has no rules for labeling the country of origin.” Instead, he said, this is a matter for the USDA.

However, he added about the honey fraud: “The Food and Drug Administration considers the labeling of the product and the statements and statements made in it on a case-by-case basis. [و] “All statements on food labels must be true and not misleading.”

According to Ron Phipps of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations, the problem of counterfeit foreign honey entering the United States is the biggest problem.He says:

It is not true that American beekeepers are uncompetitive. The problem is that other countries use production tools that allow the production of large quantities of counterfeit honey, the production costs of which are very low.

David Bradshaw says the US government needs to do more to protect the industry. He also hopes to see stronger action to protect American beekeepers from counterfeit honey or honey trying to hide their country of origin, both of which are lowering prices. Chris Hayat, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, says something needs to be done. “We need a good price to continue our business,” he says. “This is a serious problem.”

As we saw in this article, the problem of counterfeit honey production will have far-reaching negative effects on the beekeeping industry. On the other hand, buying natural honey will be more difficult for the end consumer. The only way to prevent and deal with this issue is to use new technologies to distinguish counterfeit honey from natural so that new types of fraud can be quickly detected – which were not easily understood by previous diagnostic methods.