Are Canadians paying for fake imported honey?

Beekeepers concerned impure honey imports lower world prices

Saudi Arabia and Myanmar have little in common, except that Canadian companies are importing honey from both of those countries.

Myanmar exported $388,000 worth of honey to Canada between Jan. 1 and the end of March, while $238,000 worth of honey came from Saudi Arabia, according to federal government statistics.

In comparison, Canada imported $1.1 million in honey from the United States during that same period.

The import data is making Canadian beekeepers suspicious because Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s larger importers of honey, and Myanmar is a tiny player in the global honey industry.

“What we’ve seen is, in the latest import stats, is that countries that are unusual, have unusually high imports into Canada,” said Rod Scarlett, executive director of the Canadian Honey Council.

“It’s countries that really don’t produce a lot of honey.”

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In addition to Saudi Arabia and Myanmar, honey came into Canada from places like Zambia and Moldova between Jan. 1 and March 31.

Canadian beekeepers are concerned about the imports because honey prices have plummeted over the last year. Bulk honey was $2.20 to $2.30 per pound last spring. It now is selling for approximately $1.30 per lb.

It’s possible, but difficult to prove, that the honey from these unusual countries originated in China, the largest producer of honey in the world.

China has a reputation for poor quality honey loaded with contaminants, as well as for producing fake honey from corn syrup and shipping its honey through third party countries to reach desirable export markets, thus avoiding a “Made in China” label on the product.

“A review of Thailand’s honey trade over the past 10 years reveals a correlation between sharp increases in export and increases of imports of honey from China and its surrogates,” Ron Phipps, a global honey expert, said in his recent honey market report for the American Honey Producers Association.

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“Both Thailand and Ukraine, the number of hives and level of beekeeping activity does not justify the quantity … of honey exported.”

Scarlett said the imported honey, which could be corn syrup blended with honey, steals market share from domestic honey and drives down prices for Canadian beekeepers.

“It (imported honey) can be at least 50 cents a lb. lower,” he said, adding that honey is part of a broader trend where phony food, such as fake olive oil, is becoming more common.

Scarlett said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency may need to shift its priorities and focus more on fake food.

“So that they do look at food fraud and consumer protection.”

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The North American honey industry is fighting back against importers that buy honey from questionable countries and brokers. A consortium of companies, including Bee Maid Honey in Canada, has developed a labelling initiative called True Source Honey. The group is committed to buying authentic honey from known beekeepers and brokers. The initiative has a voluntary traceability program with third party auditing.

  • Jane Hadden

    The best thing to do is buy your honey from a Canadian honey farm, there are many out there that you can buy online and they will ship it to you. I buy mine on the website poschhoney.com he also sells it at the Royal Winter Fair, it is the best honey I have ever tasted and would not eat any other kind after tasting this one.

  • richard

    Why wouldnt Canadians pay for fake honey?…..They pay for fake olive oil, fake wine, fake Angus beef, fake chicken burgers….. fake nutrition, fake lifestyles, cheap food…..and very real health care……All thanks to a fake food system sponsored by?…..you got it…..all the usual suspects…. Is it any wonder intelligent people seek real, local, non GM, fresh, farmgate, organic…? Hardly…

  • Nick

    Unfortunately it’s true, and not just the Canadians. Manufacturers all over the world are doing it for the sake of low cost production and greater margin of profit. The sad thing is people are giving good earned money for a product that’s suppose to offer them quality and potential health benefits. There are more and more brands that produce good honey though, you just have to know what to look for. Here’s a useful guide on how to tell if the honey you’re buying is real or fake, hope it would help some of the readers: https://organicpowerfoods.com/health-topics/how-to-tell-if-honey-is-real