Changes regarding honey labels. Which products will it cover?

Luc Williams

The Chamber noted in the information published on Monday that on April 18, 2024, the regulation of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development will enter into force, changing the markings on packaging. Wordings such as “blend of EU and non-EU honeys”, “mix of EU honeys” or “mix of non-EU honeys” will disappear from labels. These will be replaced by the mandatory indication of the country or countries where the honey was harvested.

Polish consumers consume more honey than local apiaries can produce

According to calculations by the Polish Chamber of Honey, changes to honey labels will cover approximately 70 percent. products available in Polish stores, because this is how many mixtures constitute the total pool of honey sold at retail. It was noted that their high share results, among other things, from the requirements set e.g. by retail chains that order large batches of raw materials from Polish producers with a specific taste, color, price and, above all, proven and repeatable quality.

“To meet these expectations, it is necessary to create compositions using honey imported from abroad” – explains PIM.

However, as written in the information, the most important reason for using imported honey is the growing demand on the Polish market, which significantly exceeds the supply, i.e. the production capacity of domestic beekeepers.

According to data from the Polish Chamber of Honey, Poles consume about 1 kg of honey per person per year, while the average for Western European countries is 1.7 kg. For comparison, Italians and Germans eat about 2 kg a year, and Greeks as much as 5 kg, which shows that the domestic market still has a lot of potential in terms of building demand. However, production possibilities are a limitation. For example, in 2022, the total honey consumption in Poland amounted to 38,000. tons, while Polish beekeepers collected a total of 25 thousand. tons of this raw material.

“Import is necessary because Polish consumers are already consuming more honey than local apiaries can produce. The entire community is facing a similar challenge – on the EU market, the demand for honey far exceeds production capacity, which is why importing raw materials and composing honey mixtures is necessary.” – said Przemysław Rujna, secretary general of PIM, quoted in the information.

Poland is the third largest player on the honey market

Currently, Poland is the third largest player (importer and exporter) on the honey market among the European Union countries. Germany and Belgium are ahead of us. According to data for 2023 (excluding December), 24.5 thousand were imported into the country. tons of honey, while in the whole of 2022, the import of this raw material to Poland amounted to nearly 32 thousand. tone. The reason for the y/y decline was, according to the Polish Chamber of Honey, lower consumption on the domestic market and reduced transport of raw material from Ukraine, which is the second largest supplier of honey to the Polish market.

Representatives of the Polish Chamber of Honey emphasized that before the product reaches Polish stores and, more broadly, the EU market, it must undergo a number of advanced tests, during which it is checked, among others, whether the honey does not contain any prohibited substances, such as residues of antibiotics or pesticides. If the tested sample of raw material, both from a Polish and a foreign supplier, does not meet the quality requirements, it will not be put on sale as a food product.

“Consumers should be aware that honey available in stores from large producers is much more thoroughly tested than that obtained from an unknown source, if only because such advanced quality tests require huge financial outlays and the use of qualified laboratories,” Rujna said. “Therefore, the country of origin does not matter much – honey imported from Ukraine or other countries does not differ in quality from that coming from Poland, and the honey mixtures available on store shelves are in no way inferior to domestic production,” he added.

The Chamber emphasized that Polish companies have built a strong position on the market, thanks to which they can resell imported raw materials abroad, competing, among others, with players from Germany. In 2023, approximately 12.9 thousand were exported from Poland. tons of honey (data excluding December). For comparison, in the whole of 2022, exports of this raw material amounted to 15,000. tone. The Polish Chamber of Honey, operating in the area of ​​promoting domestic apiaries, explains that in the case of consumers, it is crucial to choose products from Polish companies. It is less important whether it is pure honey from Polish bees or a honey mixture – their quality is just as high, and supporting domestic businesses helps maintain Poland’s position on the international market for trade in this raw material.

The Polish Chamber of Honey brings together leading representatives of the honey processing industry in Poland. Its tasks include representing the interests of Polish processors, including: promoting and encouraging the consumption of honey and bee products, integrating entities producing honey. The Chamber is also a partner in trade talks at the national and international level, issues opinions on legal regulations regarding the honey and bee products market, and engages in cooperation between the honey industry in European Union countries.

author: Ewa Wesołowska


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