CATCH THE BUZZ: Current World Honey Report

World Honey Report, by Ron Phipps of CPNA International, Ltd.

The geo-political tensions between: 1. Ukraine and Russia, 2. Vietnam and China, and 3. Different sects within Iraq add a dimension of uncertainty to currency valuations and economic stability, which were unanticipated as 2014 began.

The Vietnamese honey crop is darker than usual. Honey that was typically 70-85mm in color is ranging 80-100 mm. Given the overall international shortage of honey, the demand on Vietnamese honey is great but supplies are tight. For each of the past 6 weeks prices in the field for Vietnamese LA and Amber honey have been rising and export prices for limited quantities are rising correspondingly. The gap for prices of white, ELA, LA and Amber honey continue to narrow. But the fundamental issue has become getting Vietnamese honey.

Recent industry meetings with a variety of US government agencies are addressing the needs to: 1) continue to be vigilant to prevent circumvention in new forms, and 2) establish reasonable tolerance levels and meaningful testing limits for honey as the international agricultural community needs to find more effective and realistic ways to protect the health of humans and the health of the crops and bees upon which human health depends.

The need within an increasingly globally integrated and interdependent economy to harmonize standards, data bases, tolerance levels and testing limits and procedures is increasingly transparent. Such an imperative is mandated by the World Trade Organization and the Free Trade Agreements under negotiation. The Mythology of Ultra-Purity, like other myths, is collapsing. The need for establishing scientifically sound standards, based upon Average Daily Intake (ADI) is becoming clearer to all segments of the international honey industry including producers and packers, exporters and importers.

It remains very difficult to get 40mm and 50mm Argentine honey, and even more difficult to obtain 25mm and 34mm. As consumption is slower in July and August, the immediate focus is to secure white honey as it becomes available. This is compounded as meterologists report the development of the El Nino in the Pacific which could affect the next Argentine, Uruguayan and Chilean crops.

At present, in the U.S. the Dakotas report the bees are in excellent condition, the soil has good moisture and clover bloom is abundant. Nonetheless, beekeepers remind us that “farmers are always optimistic in the Spring” and it is wise not to sell honey before it is in the barrel.

As reported previously, there are problems with honey production in Eastern Europe:

In Hungary and Eastern Europe the blooming period of the main honey plant acacia, (Black Locust) is completed. During the middle of the bloom of the acacia trees a cyclone hit with winds of 120 kilometers/hour and cool temperatures prevailed. High winds persisted for a week and the total yield of the prized acacia crop fell to only 20-30% of the average yearly crop. This occurred as well in Slovenia, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. As a consequence the prices of honey from eastern Europe have attained historic highs. Prior to the bloom of the acacia trees, the average yields of rape honey were between 22 and 35 lbs./hive, depending on the region.

The inventories of honey from both European beekeepers and packers are exhausted as the 2013 crop has been sold and used.”