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Aspects of honey adulteration - how to prevent the fraud

We have the pleasure to announce a new moderated discussion which will take place from 14 April to 14 May 2017 and will be about the adulteration of honey.  The discussion will be moderated by Etienne Bruneau, agronomist, manager of CARI, a beekeeping centre for research and information based in Belgium and President of the Apimondia Commission for Technology and Quality.

Very few beekeepers are aware of the world situation of the honey market. Today the situation is very surprising because we observe a decrease of the productivity in a lot of countries, including in countries that generally are important honey producers (North America and Europe, Argentina, etc.), an increase of the global consumption of honey and decreasing honey prices. We can explain this decrease in price by a quick increase of the exportation of the 7 main honey export countries of the Eastern hemisphere (196% from 2007 to 2013).

So: while the total number of hives in the world is only slowly increasing (± 1,3% per year) and in many parts of the world a decrease in productivity is observed, statistics show that the amount of honey produced in the whole world increases every year by 2,5%. This increase of productivity is mostly observed in Asia and more specifically in China, the most important producer and exporter of honey. How can this increase in productivity in Asia be explained while in other parts of the world, the productivity is decreasing?  Another possible explanation for the increase in production could be the introduction of “false” or “adulterated” honey on the world market?

We will try to analyse this situation during the next 4 weeks. First of all we will give you a global overview of the honey market and of the production in different countries. We will then look at the techniques currently used by the labs to detect adulterated honey, their validity and limits. We will also provide some figures about adulterated honey that has been detected by the relevant authorities at ports. The third step will be to present what we can do to decrease or even to stop adulteration of honey. An analysis of the global situation from the producer to the consumer will underline the key points where concrete actions can be taken to decrease the interest to adulterate honey and to realize a better control of the market. Here all your suggestions will be welcome.

The objectives of the discussion are to inform the beekeepers and all the persons working in the honey value chain of the situation of the international market. We want to make them aware of the importance of the phenomenon of adulteration and the difficulty of detecting it in certain cases. All beekeepers are affected by this problem, which can affect them either directly (detection of returns of feeding syrups) or indirectly by a decrease in prices on the wholesale market.

We are inviting you to join the discussion, to share information and to ask questions to the expert. Please also feel free to forward the invitation to friends and colleagues.

Best wishes,

Charlotte

Comments

Hello,

Thank you for this information, I am very interested by this new rapid method, I think that It meets a real need and I'm sure it will have a great future at least in the world of the production of honey and beekeeping in general.

Kheira dahmani 

lila.issia@hotmail.com.

ESSAIA,Algiers

 

Dear Keira Dahmani it's true that today the equipment needed to detect some adulteration is very expensive and that only very few labs can work in this field that need constant investments. At level of most of the countries, except if they have laboratories who can work at international level, this approach is impossible. Other ways are possible. I will develop this in the third part of the discussion. A second point is the criteria that you can use to detect fraud. This point depends of the interpretation of the authorities in your country. Some just stay with the official criteria that are not effective, but normally they have to see the definition in which no one addition can be done in honey. All techniques can be used if they are validated at international level. ​For the adulteration linked to the feeding of bees, the best way is to raise the awareness of beekeepers of the risk of an excess of feeding. 

 

ADULTERATION OF HONEY IN THE HARVESTING FIELD

The naked truth is that bulk of the honeys from most countries which export them come from the remote parts of those countries (which support beekeeping practices) with low or medium technologies or skills on honey harvesting principles. Generally, more people are into buying, selling and consumption than production (keeping bees and harvesting honey). The bulk honey product is bought from the beekeepers but what happens to it in the field is not known by the buyers.

As an experienced beekeeper (over 15years) working in the field, training others and involved in buying harvested honey comb from other beekeepers; most beekeepers, honey harvesters and honey hunters still find it very difficult to separate broods (especially eggs)  from the main honey. One of the reasons being that the type of hives they use does not allow for that. In these remote areas they use more of fixed comb hives. Also, the temptation of adding water (when the viscosity is very high) and other things to increase the volume come up when the yield is not encouraging. More so, they mishandle both the bees and the honey.

In developed countries where a professional beekeeper always thinks that everything is well technologically as he uses queen excluder without knowing that a young queen escaped the excluder and made her way into the honey super where she lays few eggs(small pin-like structure). This beekeeper sends some of his/her workers (honey harvesters) to bring those supers straight to the extraction room and start work immediately. Certainly these eggs must be crushed into the honey, adulterating the honey because they are as small as the smallest pin on earth. Note: The Abstract paper I sent to Apimondia Scientific Committee,Istanbul2017 for consideration treated this issue of queen remaining where the beekeeper wants.  

Both the first and second cases of beekeepers harvesting field activities are not known by the business people(honey processors, packers and exporters) who claim to have all the machine for detecting any abnormality or additive( but not natural additives). I know very well that there are some things which their machines cannot detect. They must be handled or done correctly in the field by beekeepers and honey harvesters. The solution does not depend solely on machines.

I would like to conclude by answering the question “why adulterating Honey?.

Honey is adulterated because there are FEW REAL BEEKEEPERS AND THE DEMAND FOR HONEY IS VERY HIGH.

I am suggesting that there should be mass training and empowerment of interested beekeepers especially in developing countries which have comparative advantage of producing NATURAL HONEY.

I can help if I am needed.

Thank you,

AKPOKE CHIEGELE CHRISTIAN (MR. BEE)- Nigerian Beekeeper

 

NATURAL BITTER HONEY FROM NIGERIA- NOT ADULTERATED

It is my pleasure to use this medium to inform you that all honey is not sweet as sugars and other sweetener are commonly used to adulterate honey.

We all know very well that the taste, colour, and other properties of honey primarily depend on floral source (plant visited by the honeybee in question). Due to the presence of some special bee plants within our Apiary, from the month of December to March we harvest honey which is slightly bitter naturally.  Many consumers have called us to ask for an explanation why our honey is bitter because of fear of adulteration. Some lamented that the common statement is “As sweet as Honey” therefore nothing bitter should come near honey.

My point here is that floral source (bee plants) can also be used to monitor honey adulteration bearing in mind that all honeys are not sweet.

Thank you,

AKPOKE CHIEGELE CHRISTIAN (MR. BEE). chibeesakpoke@yahoo.com

 

At a world level and on the international market, the problem coming from larvae and eggs in honey is probably present but at a very low level. This kind of adulteration concern more specifically local or regional markets in countries where traditional beekeeping is present. Information on good beekeeping practices is very important to raise awareness among beekeepers. We have to develop the knowledge of honey produced in the region. As you tell some of them can be bitterer, more acid, and more astringent than sweet. Beekeepers and consumers must be informed of this fact. 

Dear  Dr. Charlotte Lietar and friends,

         I am Qingyun Diao from the Institute of Apicultural Research(IAR), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.I joined the institute from 1998 and now focus on honey bee disease research. From 2009, I am the chief management person of Chinese Modern Apicultural Industry Technology Research System Project ( one of 40 memeber of Modern Agro-industry  Technology Research System). My father was a beekeeper with thirty colonies. As a daughter of a  beekeeper and the person engaging in apiculture, I saw and took part in Chinese Apicultural Activity.Now I told what I saw and what we did in China these years.

   As we got the message from FAO and other sources, Chinses honey production increased these years. The reasons were included policy encouraging, colony number increasing, beekeeper' technique developing and nectar biodiversity background.I will express the reasons seperately.

About Chinese honey -1

First reason is that Policy encouraging bee colony increasing.

Chinese Government has been attaching great importance to the bee-keeping industry. On Dec. 29, 2005, China promulgated the Law on Animal Husbandry, which has designated articles (Articles 2, 47, 48 and 49) on bee-keeping administration. The Law became effective on July 1, 2006. In 2009, after receiving IAR’ advice with the title of “honey bee pollination should be paid attention by Chinese Government as an important agro-food yield increasing method”, President Xi Jinping (vice president at that time) wrote “Honey bee pollination should be paid more attention for its increasing the yield and its ecological function”. On Dec. 27, 2010, China formulated “the 12th Five Year Development Plan on Beekeeping”, which is the first of beekeeping plan since 1949 and charted a clear course for the industry. Also, in 2010, transportation of bees is entitled to Green Passage Program to encourage beekeeping.

Under the influence of State policies, from 2010 to 2015 Many Provinces and municipalities issued relevant support policies for the apiculture.  For example, Beijing formulated the Rules on Meteorological Drought Insurance for Apiculture. Jiangsu Province and Shandong Province enlisted Apis cerana into the provincial protected resources and established conservation areas for A. cerana. Apiculture was included in Shandong Provincial Development Plans in 2014. On Feb. 15, 2014, the General Office of Shandong Provincial Government issued the Apiculture Development Plan of Shandong Province (2014-2020). 15 standardized and mechanized apiaries were established in the different floral-affluent regions. 

Chinese Government has been encouraging eco-agriculture, animal husbandry in many regions is being restricted in accordance with the local resources. Many local governments take beekeeping as the primary and important means for poverty-alleviation. Farmers was encouraged to keep bees. Guangdong Province has played a leading and exemplary role in helping farmers to get out of poverty via beekeeping. The Jiaoling Country of Guangdong Province fully supported and fostered beekeeping. In 2008,1500 apiaries with the  total of 28,000 hives were kept in this country with annual honey production of 450 tons. In 2016, the hive number is above 40000.

In most regions, the cadres in the villages undertake the responsibilities of poverty alleviation. In 2014, the working group of the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Transportation sent to the Dalong Village of Lechang City succeeded in supporting fund of RMB16,000 Yuan to purchase 40 colonies for the beekeepers. At the end of that year, each beekeeper harvested 30 kilograms of winter honey. Take Lanfang Town as another example, starting from 2004, the Town provided over 500 colonies to 120 poverty-stricken and handicapped households free of charge, each handicapped person gained from 4 to 12 hives.  Mr. Guan Yunfa is a handicapped person in the town with a family of 5 persons living a poor life with his wife sick for a long time and two kids attending school. The Provincial Federation of Handicapped invested RMB50,000 Yuan and started apiary with him ( as the leader)and other 12 handicapped farmers. The handicapped persons raised 100 colonies with 2500 kg honey, expanded about 200 colonies every year.

 The Lishui City of Zhejiang Province earmarks every year special budget to provide RMB150,000 Yuan for each “Ten Hives and Ten Thousand Yuan” Project which targeted poverty alleviation in support of 20 low-income households to raise more than 200 A. cerana  colonies. The budget will be used in purchasing queen and equipment, technical training and brand-building. 80% of the budget supported the low-income household to ensure that they could start with at least 10 hives of A. cerana.  With the support, 12 demonstration centers have been established including 258 low-income households with  2,820 hives,  505 kg of average honey production per household. More than 600 people have been trained. So far, Zhejiang Province has injected over RMB20 million Yuan in 26 less-developing counties to start Ten Hives and Ten Thousand Yuan Project to help over 1,500 low-income households to increase income.

Second reason is continuous Colonies increase in China recently.

With the impetus of policies, there has been fast development in China on apiculture. As China has a vast territory, many apiaries are in remote mountainous areas with no highway where transportation is still mostly done by walking or domestic animals. China does not have a colony registration system and therefore all current data is based on statistics. The statistics of Chinese colonies provides to FAO is estimated which may be far away from reality. In fact, the number of A. cerana has risen from 2.8515 million colonies in 2008 (government statistics, and that of the industry is 3.963 million) to 5.1605 million in Oct. of 2014. According to China Apiculture Society statistics(unpublished), the colony number in 2015 is over 10 million.

The main attributes to colonies increasing include:

(1) Honey price increased in China

Consumption of bee products in China has been increasing year by year.  Take honey for example, the market price for 500 grams of honey five years ago was below 20 Yuan. Now the price has risen to more than 30 Yuan with some brand and varieties selling at more than 100 Yuan, even more than1000 Yuan per 500 g. While honey price increased, demand increased even faster. In the past, honey was mainly used in medicine, food industry and export.  Today honey is just an daily life necessity for commons.

(2)Pollination Market Push

Chinese Government has realized the importance of pollination by bees and taken actions.  In early 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture issued the Opinion of Expediting the Promotion of Bee Pollination technologies to Boost the Sustained and Healthy Development of Apiculture Industry and the Technical Manual (Trial) on Bee Pollination. In 2011, the Ministry set up special public fund to support the technical research on pollination. In May of 2013, Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu presided over the apiculture workshop and emphasized the importance of pollination. On Nov. 5, 2013, the Ministry issued the Decree No. 75, i.e. the Notice of the General Office of the Ministry of Agriculture on Distributing the Demonstration Program of Pollination and Green Production Increase Technologies Integration and Application and formally launched demonstration work. In 2015 the General Office of the Ministry issued the Notice on Distributing the Demonstration Program of Technology Integration and Application for Bee Pollination, Green Prevention & Pest and Disease Control (2015 ) and again in 2016, the Department of Crops Production re-distributed the Notice, all of which have had far reaching significance on the development of pollination industry in China.

Inspired by the Ministry of Agriculture, local governments also took actions and issued relevant policies.  On Feb. 27, 2015, the Plant Protection Center of Hubei Province issued the Notice on Distributing the Implementing Plan on Technology Integration and Demonstration for Bee Pollination on Citrus, Greenhouse Strawberries, Green Prevention & Pests and Diseases Control (2015).  On March 31, 2016, the Implementation Plan of 2016 was issued again focused on pollination on Greenhouse Strawberries, Green Prevention & Pests and Diseases Control  in order to promote honey bee pollination for citrus and strawberries. On May 5, 2016, the Inner Mongolia Government issued the Notice of Demonstration Plan (2016) for honey bee pollination.

Under such policy influence, public recognition on the role of bee pollination is increased and accepted the quality of the crops pollinated by bees. Pollinated by honey bees, strawberries and watermelons have higher production and higher prices.  Strawberries planters have widely recognized the importance of honey bee pollination, started to purchase or rent colonies for pollination. That made the need of pollinating hives increased and due to the quantity and the price increasing. The selling price rose from RMB 500 Yuan per colony to RMB 1,000 Yuan, and special beekeepers focused in breeding and selling colonies emerged recent years.

(3)Training on Industry Technology System

In 2008, the Chinese government launched a modern agricultural industry technology system construction project and about 40 industry sectors including bees started at the same time. 41 experts( each with 5 assistants) from 23 provinces and municipalities together with 170 team members participated in the bee industry technology system. 105 demonstration counties and over 10,000 beekeepers and government officials joined the project. The Project is dedicated to resolving the critical issues impeding the development of the industry such as selection and breeding, prevention and control of diseases, raising technologies, equipment and tools developing, etc. Under the project, technical trainings are held nationwide, learning materials are distributed free of charge and technical consultancy is offered.

From 2008 to 2016, 1386 workshops, 60 operating meeting were held with a total of 140,819 beekeepers trained and 100,000 training materials disseminated. In 2016, 361 training workshops and 45 filed meetings were held with 3290 local technical persons, 2046 large apiary’ beekeepers, 6376 farmers and 29,294 beekeepers trained. 3112 times of consulting service, 32,000 publicity materials, 11,554 technical materials and books, 600 technical CDs and 2,000 pieces of bee pollination materials had afforded free.

With the positive impacts of government priority and projects, more and more regions have listed technical training for the apiculture industry, including various technologies in beekeeping such as bee breed, pest and disease control, management, etc., into the local governments’ training Projects which were originally designed to train farmers and didn’t include apiculture industry.

Through the trainings, the management level of the beekeepers have been improved.

Third reason is improvement in management technique of Chinese beekeepers

According to survey in some provinces, the average raising time of beekeeper’ in those regions is above 20 years (the average for Hubei and Guangdong Provinces in 2012 is 21.8 years, in 2013 that is 21.9 years), which constitute to the skilled beekeeper group. Trained by the national training programs, their skills have been significantly improved. In recent years, application of beekeeping vehicles and tools such as small bee blower has greatly improved the productivity. Nowadays, in order to increase honey  production, double queen colonies were used widely by Chinese beekeepers. During honey collecting season, queen was always be  restrict laying eggs.

Mr. Liang Chaoyou’s apiary in Xinjiang is the largest apiary in China with   3,500 colonies, 250 tons honey production in  2011. The  staff was only 11 persons (one of them is handicapped). By 2016, he owned over 6,000 colonies. Mr. Sun from Hubei Province with 150 colonies transferred in China.11 tons of honey was produced in 2016 with an average honey production of 73 kilograms.

Fengshun County in Guangdong Province is a poor mountainous country with a backward economy. The whole country had only about 800 colonies in the 1990s.  Starting from 1998, Mr. Luo Yuexiong of the Guangdong Provincial Insects Research Institute began introducing beekeeping technologies in the county and as a result, by 2003 the county had over 21,000 colonies and 37,000 in 2009. Average honey production per colony rose from 7-9 kilograms to 23 kilograms. Quality of honey also improved and the prices became higher. The number of beekeeping family in the county grew from less than 200 to over 1,500 today. Honey quantity rose from 7 tons in 1990 to 800 tons in 2009.

The last reason is that diversity in nectar sources determines a big decrease in honey production in China unlikely. The reasons is as followed:

(1)Vast territory with diversified nectar sources

According to preliminary research, there are 14,317 types of nectar and pollen plants in China, belonging to 864 genus and 141 families, of which 50 types are national or regional main nectar plants, 466 are supplementary nectar plants and 24 are major pollen plants. There are various types of nectar plants from south to north, for example, linden, sunflowers in Northeast China, vitex,jujube and locust in northern China, rapeseed and pediment in northwest China, rapeseed and Chinese tallow tree in central China, longyan and litchi in south China as well as rapeseed in southwest China. The varieties of nectar sources and varying climate conditions determines that even when honey production drops in a certain region it will have very limited impact on the overall honey production in China.

(2) Nectar sources are widely distributed

Rapeseed is the main nectar source in China and is a widely growing crop, with the latitude from Hainan Island in the South to Hulun Buir in the North or the longitude from Fuyuan in the East to the Pamirs in the West, whether in the plateau of 4,000 meters above sea level or in the flat plains, in the mid and downstream of the Yangtze River. Because of its vast distribution and varying blossom seasons in the sequence from the south to north, rapeseed blossoms in December in Guangdong and Yunnan, followed by the regions near the Tropic of Cancer. In March, rapeseed in the Sichuan Basin as well as the north of Nanling and Wuyi mountains enters into blossom season and the in the coastal regions of Jiangsu and Zhejiang as well as Henan provinces in April followed by Shaanxi in May and June-July in Qinghai. The total rapeseed blossom season from south to north totals 7-8 months altogether.

In addition to rapeseed, linden, locust , vitex and sunflowers are also important nectar plants in China with relatively wide distribution. Linden has 80 types in 9 families, mostly distributed in Northeast, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong and Jiangxi. 

Vitex is widespread in China from the Taihang and Yanshan mountains in the north to the Zhongtiao, Yimeng, Daba, Funiu and Yellow Mountains in the south. There are large distributions of vitex in Hubei, Anhui, Shandong, Hebei, Liaoning Provinces and Beijing.  There are natural distributions of vitex in the mountains north of Beijing, Chengde of Hebei and Ju Ud League and Ih Ju League in Inner Mongolia.

Locust originated in North America and were introduced into China at the end of the 19th Century and grow in south of Tieling, Liaodong Peninsula and Inner Mongolia in northeast China, Sichuan, Yunnan, Xinjiang in the western part and Fujian in the south. It is mainly distributed in mid and downstream region of the Yellow River and Yangtze River such as Henan, Shandong, Hebei, Beijing, Anhui, Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, etc.

Sunflower is one of world’s four oil-bearing crops and was introduced into China in Ming Dynasty. Main sunflower growing region is between 35-55°north latitude and distributed in Northeast, Southwest and Northern China which covers 13 provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Shanxi, Ningxia and Xinjiang. 

With such abundant nectar plants and their vast distribution, it’s impossible for disastrous weather to cover such vast territory and time gaps and decreased China’s honey production.

 

Although I analyzed the reason above, the adulteration of honey imported to European market really exists. It is not only the problem of European market, but also of the problem of honey importer and exporter. Not only the European beekeepers were harmed by adulteration, but also the Chinese beekeepers were. Actually, Chinese beekeepers were hurt more seriously, because the international importing price made the domestic honey price falling, made beekeeping small profits and difficult to raising honey bees.

As a daughter of beekeeper, I am distressing to see the honey adulteration.

Action must be done not only to protect European beekeepers, but also to the Chinese beekeepers.

Key point should be found in the adulteration. Who was in charging of adulteration? Who was the leading person in the honey adulteration? The adulteration should be punished.

Providing good honey to the consumer is our common goal and same duty. Let honey be honey. That is what we should do. 

Dear Qingyun Diao,

Many thanks for sharing with us the policies that the Chinese Government introduced in support of the beekeeping sector and for illustrating how these policies contributed to an increased honey production and a strengthened beekeeping sector in China.  I am pleased to hear that your Government recognizes the importance of bees and beekeeping and the need to introduce measures to protect them and to develop the sector in a sustainable way!

Keep up the good work and looking forward to hearing more from you and colleagues.

Best wishes

Charlotte

To answer this question, we need to analyze the issue of adulteration and other fraud more comprehensively.

 We can do this by using a technique applied in the field of the environment namely the “DPSIR framework”. It analyzes the DRIVERS that generate PRESSURES to arrive at a STATE of the situation with the observed IMPACTS in the sector concerned. Based on this one can search RESPONSES. If we transfer this technique to the beekeeping sector and more specifically to the level of the honey market, this gives us the following elements.

The DRIVERS are made up of the situation of the market of honey and more particularly of the production and the demand of honey as we analyzed in the first part of this discussion. We have seen that the increase in demand for honey is constantly increasing albeit not at the growth rate of the world population. We know that the demand for natural products such as honey has seen a very significant increase in recent times and that in those countries where this increasing demand is observed (North America and the European Union) production is losing speed. As a result, there is a growing increase in trade between countries that increase their production and those that increase their consumption.

This growing demand for products generates a PRESSURE in the markets which should lead to an increase in prices but this is not the case because a counter pressure comes from the sales channels of honey. Today, most of the import honey is sold through supermarkets, and it are the buyers of large–scale retailers who put a lot of pressure on producers to keep prices stable and if possible even reduce prices.  This will limit the margins of packers and the retailer circuit.

These pressures will translate into a rather worrying STATE. At the international level, we observe an increase in the number of hives by 8 % in 7 years, whereas during the same period, exports of honey grow by 61%. This is particularly true for the main exporting countries in Asia and the East of the European Union. In these countries, for a 13 % increase in the number of producing hives, we observe an increase in exports by 196%. In the European Union, there has been a massive import of Chinese honey which took 50 % of the import market in 10 years, except for last year when imports from China decreased and imports from Ukraine increased. All these pressures will also be transferred to the producers and mainly to beekeepers who sell honey on the wholesale market. In order to increase production while limiting operating costs, beekeepers will resort to more risky practices which can have an impact on their colonies and/or product quality. Intensification of migratory beekeeping to areas with intensive crop production at greater risk for bees, increase of the size of apiaries with the relevant health risks involved, reduction of production costs through the use of non-approved medicines, are just a few examples. In some cases, the legal limits are ignored and beekeepers harvest nectar that has not been matured by the bees or bees are fed with feeding syrups during harvest periods. The products resulting from such practices obviously no longer correspond to the Codex definition of honey. For the packers, the temptation to add cheap sugar syrups to their honeys will become increasingly attractive especially if the methods used do not make it possible to detect them or if there are hardly any controls to detect these adulterations.

As you may suspect, all this will have a direct IMPACT on the honeys. The adulteration of honeys becomes an international problem as we saw in the second part of the discussion. Honey ranks third in the list of adulterated products in the USA, and following an investigation carried out by the European Commission on honey adulteration on EU and non EU honeys, more than a fifth of the honey analyzed in the study was adulterated. The problem is unprecedented in the past. In addition, when prices paid to the producers are below actual production costs, many professional farms cease their activities.

What answers can be given?

At the market level (Drivers), several avenues should be followed:

- we must seek to increase sustainably the global production of honey and encourage beekeepers to diversify their production by developing new markets for products such as wax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, drone larvae, etc.;

- this increase in production must be linked to an increase in the quality of the products by ensuring proper supervision of the sector;

- traceability of honeys must be ensured from the hive to the final consumer. The « True honey source » certification programme developed in the USA is a good example of what can be done. Nowadays technology allows to give the details on geographical origin and botanical origin of the mixture of honeys;

- the actual cost of production must be assessed for the different producing countries and especially for the exporting countries.

At the same time, consumers must be informed about:

- the actual production costs of honey for the beekeepers so that they can understand when they buy a fair priced honey or a honey which is sold below the production costs and hence potentially adulterated;

- the diversity of honeys present on the market. The campaign "1000 coulors, 1000 flavors" launched in France several years ago to promote honey is definitely a good way to raise awareness among the consumers about the variety of natural honeys;

- concrete information on the nutritional and health values of honey compared to simple sugars must be developed to highlight the essential differences between a quality honey and simple table sugar in our diet and for our health. This type of information should also be available for the other hive products.

At the level of Pressures, to avoid buyer’s monopoly on the food market, it is necessary to diversify the distribution networks and to propose new sales formulas that guarantee to the consumers quality products at the right price. The establishment of collective purchasing groups in search of products of known quality and origin is a possible alternative.

Honeys should be further diversified at the sales level, using more of the existing quality labels: organic farming, PGI Protection of geographic indication (PGI) or Protection of designation of origin PDO (see moderated discussion: http://teca.fao.org/discussion/protected-designations-origingeographical...), etc.

Also, an effort should be made to increase knowledge and information on characteristics of different botanical and geographical origins of honeys around the world.

If the Situation cannot be changed, it is necessary to design tools to follow its development, and to ensure that effective solutions can be found to safeguard the quality of honey and the survival of the beekeepers.

An international database should be put in place to ensure proper monitoring of the actual honey production in different countries and within a short period of time. Production costs could then be monitored to analyze the economic viability of beekeeping farms.  At an initial stage this could be done through an international pilot beekeeping network responsible for transmitting their production data in real time. The pilot farms should be located in the different major honey producing regions of the world. The data generated should be accessible to all actors in the field.

Beekeepers should be promptly informed of market data (volumes and type of honey produced, cost of production, local prices, etc.) and best practices to best meet market needs.

To avoid the disastrous Impacts of fraud on the beekeeping sector (image of honey, fall of prices and quality), a series of measures should be taken. Many of these measures have already been pointed out by several participants of this discussion and I thank them for their constructive and courageous contributions.

Some of these measures could be:

- Establish in each country an anti-fraud control policy based on a clear definition of what constitutes fraud. The criteria used to determine if honey is adulterated must take into consideration any reliable analysis carried out by a laboratory accredited for this analysis or which has at least sufficient expertise in this field. Information about the honey producing bee species may be important for honey exported to the European Union.

- Controls must cover both the domestic market and imports and exports.

- An international fraud warning system should be set up to monitor the number and type of frauds detected. Lists of operators at risk could be established (black list).

- A clear limit must be established between voluntary adulteration such as the addition of sugar syrup either during honey flow or after extraction of honey, and with an involuntary and limited presence of feeding syrup in the honey supers. This limit should be based on what can be observed when good beekeeping practices are observed during honey harvests.

- Extraction of unripe honeys or honey that has been filtered on resins cannot be labeled as honey.

- The establishment of an international database containing information on the characteristics of main botanical origins of honey from around the globe.  This information of course should be based on honeys produced following good beekeeping practices. This database, which should be maintained and updated on a regular basis, would offer a parameter for laboratories and allow them to correctly calibrate their analysis techniques/tools for the recognition of true honeys.

- An analytical database of these reference honeys should be made available to the laboratories to facilitate validation or research of new analyzes.

- The sharing of analyzes that have allowed the detection of fraud not yet detected by other analyzes (eg. NMR) should be encouraged and should receive international recognition soon after validation.

- Pre-screening analyzes that are more accessible for a large number of laboratories that do not have very expensive equipment, should be set up quickly. The kit proposed by the Malaysian team is an example.

Beekeeping sector today is facing this very important challenge which can put at risk the survival of many commercial beekeepers. The role of consumers is essential because they   constitute the demand for our products and they can strongly influence the evolution of the market. Our hive products have proven nutritional and health qualities which should be promoted in an era of growing concern about the effect of food on health.

As we can see, we will only be able to rectify the current situation with the international collaboration of all the actors involved: beekeepers, beekeeping industry, packagers, retailers, beekeeping assistants, apiculture associations, International organizations (Apimondia, FAO, etc.), analytical laboratories and researchers in the bee products sector. The work is enormous but it will benefit the whole beekeeping sector and guarantee a quality product for the consumers.

If you have any suggestions, questions or comments on the above, pls feel free to share.

Etienne

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