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Which bee produced you, honey?

Natural honey imports into South Africa have increased nearly 90% since 2001.

Sitting in a coffee shop in Pretoria on May 20, I came across a honey product (see below). Sweet as she was, she was totally unsure from where she came.

Which bee produced you, honey? To which she replied: “Bees have dual citizenship these days, so I usually just wing it on my label.”

Honey bottle

The ‘mixed labelling’ issue on honey products should not be taken lightly, especially given the recent upsurge of  ‘natural honey’ imports into South Africa. South Africa’s honey imports increased from 476 tonnes in 2001 to 4 206 tonnes in 2017 (chart below).

 honey chart

This is mainly due to steady domestic demand, coupled with a decline in domestic honey production. But, worth highlighting is that on average, 76% of South Africa’s ‘natural honey’ imports came from China in the last 17 years.

I mention this because Chinese honey has in the past dominated the headlines, but not in a good way. In 2014, food24.com ran an article which highlighted that Chinese farmers were caught producing counterfeit honey.

Europe had similar experiences with imported honey to such as extent that the in 2014, the European lawmakers ranked honey on the 6th spot on the list of 10 top products that are most at risk of food fraud.

This has been a big scandal, and even Netflix, went as far as shooting a documentary about it entitled “Rotten — Lawyers, Guns & Honey.”

Again, which bee produced you, honey?

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. 

This article originally featured on Agricultural Economics Today

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I have seen the documentary “Rotten — Lawyers, Guns & Honey”. It is scary, the Chinese perfected the fake honey production so well that they even use the right pollen from the right area to fool testing. I am sure that the testing of imported honey in SA is far less advanced than in the US or in the EU. Because of this I expect that the vast majority of Chinese honey in SA never met a single bee.

Ever wondered why most honey from super markets, originating mostly in blend from China that never crystallizes?

Propylene glycol and glycerine

Chinese blend huge amounts to ensure viscosity when storing and bulking

Pure honey is never cheap

I think SA’s chemical masterminds should come up with a fake Rhino-horn formula/powder to end up for sale in Asian countries. It could be a great foreign revenue earner for SA, provided it remains well covered up. (..and it will save the real rhino).

It’s time for the people of SA to cash in on other nations’ misbeliefs…

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