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The Hunger for Honey Part 2 - Why the US Needs Imported Honey
Everyone in the business knows that Americans have got a real taste for honey. Starting with sweet breakfast options to tasty snacks throughout the day, the average number of households that consume honey has significantly grown to include more and more consumers over the years. So where does all the honey come from? On the one hand, local beekeepers have this down to an exact science. They have identified how to care for their bees to maximize honey production in hives. On the other hand, in 2021 the US became the #1 importer of honey in the world.
These massive quantities of honey are used as an alternative sweetener, and as a spread on top of toasts and biscuits. There are also reports of the increased consumption of honey crystals, which can be considered as its own ingredient, or as a spread on toasts, biscuits and muffins. Most studies show that honey benefits from being seen as a healthy and pure alternative when compared to many available food sources. As a result, the demand for organic honey has increased by double digits annually over the last four years. This blog is going to explore how the increased demand for honey has caught up with the US beekeepers and the honey imports while identifying the role it plays in the US honey business.
All about that Honey
Identified as “The One Thing That Can Do Anything” by the National Honey Board, Honey is a miracle ingredient that is a product created by bees, flowers and mother nature. As the popularity of honey increased among American households, the US per capita consumption of honey has grown from 1.20 pounds in 2010 to 1.51 pounds. This is an increase of over 25% Unfortunately, production hasn’t been able to keep up with these increased demands. Between 2000 and 2015, American honey production declined by nearly 30%. As a result of growing demand, weak production, and insufficient imports, the prices of honey have significantly risen.
This brings us to the topic at hand, why does the US need imported honey? To answer this question it is necessary to have an understanding of the supply and demand for honey in America.
Consumption vs. Supply
Surveys show that in 2021, the US consumed about 620 million pounds of honey. Only 20% of that was produced domestically. Since honeybees aren’t native to North America, the honey-producing bees are mostly managed in colonies or man-made hives that can be transported around the country to whichever farm might need their services. However, despite these precautions, US honey production has significantly decreased.
This is not because there are fewer colonies, but because the yield per hive has declined. Between 2006, when CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) was first discovered, and 2015, the number of bee colonies increased by 10%. A better explanation for the decline in honey production is the drop in the honey yield per hive. Between 2005 and 2015, yield per hive has fallen from 72.5 lb to 58.9 lb per hive, a decrease of nearly 20%. The drop is more significant if you consider that yield per hive in 2000 was 84 lb per hive. Here the honey yield has declined by nearly 30% between 2000 and 2015.
The Big Three: India, Vietnam and, Argentina
As a result of the shortfalls in honey production, the remainder is usually imported in order to meet the requirements of the average American household. As the world’s largest importer of honey, the US sources its honey from three countries: India, Vietnam, and Argentina. Interestingly, China, the world’s largest honey producer and exporter is absent from the list of top US importers. This is because, in 2000, US beekeepers accused both Chinese and Argentinean honey producers of dumping honey into US markets. As a result, the US imposed import duties that tripled the price of honey from these countries.
Although the duties on Argentina have since been lifted, the Chinese tariffs have stayed in place, effectively blocking Chinese producers from the US market. However, the US government utilizes Chinese honey to combat rising honey prices by eliminating tariffs on them when necessary. So the US can import more honey from the world’s largest exporter when needed. This helps regulate the ever-increasing price of honey in America.
Why the US Needs Imported Honey
Everything else aside, why the US needs imported honey is simple economics. If the demand increases and the supply stay the same, the price will go up. It is one of the basic principles of supply and demand. What has happened to the US honey industry is nothing short of meeting the increased demand for honey alongside the challenges set forth by CCD and other issues within the industry. As a result, honey imports have become an important stabilizer in the market that controls prices while ensuring that the high demand for honey and honey-based products are met.
As a part of the US honey industry, Blythewood Beekeeping provides quality supplies and services that will help grow your beehive colony. As an industry-leading honey bee company, we offer high-quality frames, beekeeping starter kits, hive supplies, protective gear, and educational beekeeping information across the USA. Explore the goods and services that you may need for any beekeeping needs at Blythewood Co.