Honey pricing

The best way to start beekeeping is to learn by example.

Join an association, go to a Beginning beekeeping’ course over the winter and browse the catalogues.

Get a mentor, buy a nuc of well-behaved local bees in May/June and enjoy yourself.

And talk beekeeping with other beekeepers.

Ask questions, lots of them

In case you’ve not noticed, if there’s enough tea and digestives available, beekeepers can talk a lot. Ask three beekeepers a question and you’ll get at least five answers 1.

They’ll talk about swarming and queen rearing, about how imports are ruining beekeeping and about hive designs.

They’ll discuss how imported queens head calm and productive colonies and why ‘brood and a half’ is the solution to most beekeeping problems 2.

Some will enthusiastically talk about half-assed DIY ‘solutions’ to barely existent problems or why comparisons between treatment-free beekeeping and anti-vaxxers is unfair 3.

Local honey

They’ll talk about anything, agreeing and disagreeing in equal measure.

Well, not quite anything

The observant tyro will notice that there are a few topics on which experienced beekeepers are a bit less opinionated or, er, helpful.

Could you help me requeen my ‘colony of sociopaths’ this weekend?

Can you give me the phone number of the farmer with 40 acres of borage?

How did you prepare that prizewinning wax block for the annual honey show?

How much do you charge for your honey?

And not just unhelpful … they can be downright evasive.

Healthy competition

Topics like these are where beekeeping becomes a competitive pastime (except for the requeening one, which is simply self-preservation).

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We want the best forage for our bees so that colonies are strong and healthy. We want good nectar sources so that supers are heavy and numerous. We want to win ‘Best in Show’ so we can add the magic words ‘Prizewinning local honey’ to our labels which – for some at least – means we’ll be able to charge a premium for our honey.

Vulture

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

But think back to when you were a beginner.

That first year you had a real surplus of honey 4.

After the circling vultures of friends and family had had a jar or two for their porridge/tea/toast or acne 5. After you’ve sold half a dozen jars at the village fete, or to colleagues at work.

When you’ve actually got quite a few jars left over you’d like to sell ‘at the door’, or through an excellent local organic cafe or outstanding artisan cheese shop 6.

How much do you charge for your honey?

Firstly, if you’re in precisely this situation, don’t expect any simple answers here.

But also don’t necessarily expect any straight answer from your beekeeping colleagues.

Assuming you’re not actually dependent upon the income, in a way it doesn’t really matter what you charge. As long as you recoup your costs – jars, labels, petrol, Apivar, fondant etc. – you’ll have a hobby that pays for itself and gives you enjoyment 7.

That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

You can’t really ask for any more than that.

Except you can.

If you charge £3 a pound and cover your costs you might be able to charge £4.50 a pound and buy a new hive tool.

Or hive.

In your dreams

Or something totally unrelated to beekeeping that you’ve always wanted.

Like a Harley Davidson Softail Fat Boy 😉

Or you could charge £9 a pound and have a busman’s holiday in New Zealand every winter with the Manuka honey farmers.

Or you could charge £12.50 a pound … and sell virtually none of it because the beekeeper down the road is only charging £3 and you can buy *&%$£’s Everyday Essentials honey for 99p 8.

Tricky.

What is the competition?

Not inexpensive

With few exceptions, supermarket honey is cheap. Where there are exceptions it’s because the honey is either inexpensive … or exorbitantly priced Manuka.

Cheap and inexpensive aren’t the same thing at all. The former is produced down to a price, like the jar mentioned above priced just below the psychologically important £1 threshold.

I’d bet that any almost honey produced by a local beekeeper, whatever the forage available, however poorly it had been filtered or presented, would be better than most of these cheap supermarket honeys.

I should note in passing that any comments I make here assume the honey is actually honey (it’s not corn syrup for example) and that it’s not fermenting and hasn’t been overheated during preparation. The first of these regularly occur in the millions of tons of ‘honey’ traded globally each year, whereas the other two are more likely to be problems encountered – or caused – by inexperienced amateur beekeepers.

The inexpensive supermarket honey is (usually) bought and sold in bulk, blended, often nicely labelled and attractively packaged. It’s perfectly good honey. It’ll probably taste OK and it might sell for £3 to £4 for 340 g.

The exorbitantly priced Manuka honey is an oddity. It might well be fake and it tastes pretty awful in my view. It’s a marketing triumph of hype over substance.

So is £4 a jar the baseline?

It depends upon the size of the jar 😉

It also depends upon the effort you are prepared to make on the bottling, labelling and marketing 9.

But you’re not bottling, labelling and marketing bulk produced, blended, imported ‘Produce of EU and non EU countries’.

What you have is a far, far more valuable product than that.

You’ve had complete control over its production from start to finish – from siting the hives, through extracting, storage and jarring.

Local apiary, mid-July 2018

The provenance of the honey is without question.

There’s very few products sitting on supermarket shelves that you could say that about.

It’s very rare. This doesn’t in itself make it valuable. After all,  Ebola is thankfully very rare in the UK. However, for some people (actually many people) buying something that’s not available in every supermarket across the country is a distinct plus point.

It’s rare and its availability is limited because it’s local honey. You’ve not got 5,000 colonies spread over half a dozen postcodes in the county 10. There aren’t barrels of the same stuff in warehouses across the country 11.

What you’ve got is a few buckets of mixed floral honey from about 9 square miles (at most, probably significantly less) of the countryside around your apiary.

Known provenance

And local honey should attract a premium price.

Many people want to buy local produce and eat local food. Their definition of local and the one I use above may not align perfectly. For me, local might be the two shallow valleys and the arable farmland my bees forage in.

For the potential buyer, ‘local’ might be anything within Fife (about 500 square miles).

And Fife has a population of about a third of a million people. Which is a lot of potential customers wanting ‘local’ honey. Which means demand should or could be high.

Which, in turn, increases the price you could sell your honey for.

So, I reckon that £4 a jar is about the lowest amount you should charge.

If you can find small enough jars 😉

The £10 ceiling

But what about slightly larger jars? After all, small jars are a pain to fill. How much can you realistically charge for a one pound (454 g) jar of honey?

At the moment the upper limit seems to be about a tenner.

If you look at ‘high-end’ outlets selling good quality local produce you’ll find that there appears to be an upper price limit of about £10.

Remember that this price includes a shop markup of perhaps 20-30%. After all, they have staff, rent, insurance and other costs to cover.

Which perhaps finally gets near the answer to How much do you (or can I) charge for honey?’

Go and look in local outlets and see what they are charging for truly local honey. Not the (perfectly fine quality) honey from the larger regional suppliers (this isn’t local, it’s regional at best and, more likely, national), but the stuff from individuals within 10-15 miles or so.

Take off the guesstimated markup and that’s a reasonable guide to the price 12.

What?

There isn’t any on the shelves?

This can only mean one of three things:

  • They’ve already sold out because demand is so high = opportunity 🙂
  • There aren’t any local beekeepers selling local honey = opportunity 🙂
  • The shopkeeper has yet to realise the benefits of selling local honey = (yes, you guessed it) opportunity 🙂

I’m going to return to this topic several times over the winter.

In the meantime, back to the borage and that prizewinning wax block …

Oh dear, I’ve just reached 1500 words which is my (oft-ignored) self-imposed cutoff for waffle each week.

Those subjects will have to wait 😉


 

Footnotes

  1. One of which will be about brood and a half.
  2. It isn’t.
  3. They’re not … half-assed, barely existent or unfair.
  4. Which probably wasn’t your first year.
  5. Yes, really. And I’m assured it works extremely well. I’m going to write about medicinal uses of honey sometime over the winter.
  6. I bet neither of those were caught by your Ad-blocker!
  7. And what if you don’t recoup your costs? Think about the fun you’ve had.

    My son once calculated I’d need to sell honey at £468 a jar to “break even”. I’m still not sure I trust his maths.

  8. Admittedly that price is for a strikingly unattractive 340 g jar where the contents (largely concealed behind an all-encompassing and spectacularly ugly label) are from ‘EU and non EU countries’ … whatever that means.

     

    Why don’t they just use ‘Produce from the cheapest place we could source it’ instead?

  9. I’ll deal with this another time. I know I’m going to run out of space and time.
  10. And hopefully no-one else has either.
  11. But there probably are of the inexpensive supermarket honey.
  12. All other things being equal. The honey still needs to look good in the jar, it needs to be distinctive and – of course – it needs to taste good. The latter is probably the easiest of these to achieve.

28 thoughts on “Honey pricing

  1. Marion Affleck

    West Coast honey – £ 8 per 227g/8oz jar and 227g/8oz cut comb honey [ with Thorne presentation box ] £10 – all sold out within 2 days. I find that people are happy to pay that price so only do 8oz jars, they may not be so willing to pay £16 for a lb jar of local honey. They can only buy it directly from myself. I never get a huge harvest being coastal – 3/4 of my bees forage area consists of seawater – hardly conducive to a plentiful harvest. I value highly the work my bees do and the price reflects it. Great subject !

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Marion

      This is music to my ears for obvious reasons. Some shops only buy 8oz jars from me because prices otherwise quickly move above that psychologically important ‘tenner’ limit. Other places seem to have no problems with pound jars priced pro rata and can sell them almost as fast as they are delivered. I wish I could find some more attractive pound jars at a reasonable price, though the ’round corners’ of the classic honey jar have a lot to commend it.

      Best Wishes
      David

      Reply
      1. Marion

        Hi David
        Music indeed ! You’ll have no problem over here selling honey – demand far outweighs supply. I don’t sell my honey in shops etc as they tend to add on their mark up, usually 30% on top to cover their overheads etc which would likely bump the price up a bit too much. A comment I had recently was that – quote ” It’s so different to last years that I had from you ” – absolutely ! and it will be different again to next years [ fingers crossed ] which I think makes it an unique product. A lady I know was selling her honey in some very nice lb jars a few years ago – I’ve no idea of price, but they were nice, so I imagine the price of them reflected that – I’ll find out where she got them from.
        Marion

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          Hello again Marion

          There can be hive to hive variation in a single year that is as marked as year to year. I’ve got two main apiaries and the honey they produce is distinctly different at some times of the year. This summer just gone was wetter than 2018 and I’m pretty sure the lime yielded well for one of the apiaries. It certainly has the zingy taste I expect for lime, but I’ll try and have a look at the pollen in due course. The other apiary produced nothing similar.

          Best Wishes
          David

          Reply
  2. Stephen Auty

    I can go on and on about how Beekeepers and associations for that matter under sell their product once it’s in the jar.
    I was astonished to hear at the BFA AGM a large honey packer admonish us all claiming UK Honey was too expensive at £7.50/kg for him to buy to jar and sell on when compared with £1/kg for ‘honey’ from China..and trust me that’s what’s going into the value and low price ranges and retailer’s honey across the country.
    He said UK honey amounted to 2% of his purchases..hardly supporting the UK honey industry.

    For me, honey ought to be AT LEAST national minimum wage per lb – £8.21 and this will rise by 2025 to £10.50 if you believe the latest political promises..therefore the trade price ought to be around the £4-£5 mark (for a 12oz jar) to allow the bulk trade bottler to make something and the retailer too. The retail price per lb at the gate should also be £8.21 (pro-rated for size 12/8oz).

    We absolutely mustn’t under sell our honey and I agree with your sentiments above about locality.

    Please by all means share my comments

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Stephen
      You make a number of very good points.
      Honey packers are inevitably looking for the lowest price they can get. They cannot afford – or refuse to buy – UK honey so sustain the massive imports from across the world. Their loss. And ours.

      I know from my discussions with commercials that some think bottling and selling isn’t worth it, and that the only way to profitably run honey production is to sell by the tonne to the packers in barrels. Not many of them read these pages which are very much focused at the other end of the scale of operations.

      Amateurs need to realise they have a unique and hugely valuable product that there is a market for … they just have to price it appropriately, prepare it well and sell it in the right way. The “shelves empty of local honey” scenario is not atypical. It’s often because the shop cannot get a suitable source. Someone who can reliably supply honey of a quality and appearance to ‘fit’ with the needs of their customers.

      In my view the key thing is demonstrating the ‘local’ bit of local honey. Scottish honey is national, Fife honey is regional, Collessie honey, together with a map and a link to some local information, means really local.

      I don’t disagree with your idea of pricing at the minimal wage per pound. The amount at least. I’m not quite how it is justified in those terms and think looking at what the ‘top end’ of the market finds acceptable is probably more straightforward.

      Half the battle is getting beekeepers to realise how valuable (and how valued) the honey they produce is. We’ve all got used to the pile it high, sell it cheap mentality of the supermarkets. Food is cheap here (at least until Brexit). But well prepared local honey is in a completely different league to the stuff in the supermarkets.

      Here’s another price comparison. If I go for dinner with friends I used take a nice bottle of red wine. I now always take honey. It is always more appreciated. It has the personal touch, it’s unique, it’s delicious … and I won’t help my host finish it by the end of the evening 😉

      I’d therefore value a jar of good local honey at about what I’m prepared to pay for good bottle of Australian or Chilean red.

      Cheers
      David

      PS I’m increasingly unlikely to trust politicians and we’d usually still take a bottle of wine and a jar or two of honey …

      Reply
    2. Cris Reeves

      And he has a point Stephen.

      He’s a volume business and when he’s trying to sell pallets of British honey to large multiples he’s up against cheaper imported product on the shelf at a much lower price as well as the other of his own lines that he supplies to them already.

      When you have to part with 45%-55% of the RRP to keep the customer satisfied and you have significant operational overheads, volume British honey at the current price doesn’t stack up. It’s a difficult model to justify.

      Nobody wants to see a ‘7’ in front of the price of British honey on a supermarket shelf because no body would buy it in any volume – and that is a volume game.

      J Sainsbiry sales of British honey dropped 15% (+/- 1%) during 2018 which gives you a flavour how the consumer is currently feeling (apart from confused with all of this existing Brexit shenanigans).

      There is a significant amount of 2018 season honey still being offered in the marketplace to go alongside the crop taken this year. I expect a downturn in the current bulk price in the not-too-distant future.

      Reply
      1. David Post author

        Thanks for those comments Cris

        I agree (without any real commercial insight) that quality British honey is never going to be competitively priced for the bulk packers, or be marketable in big-name supermarkets when placed alongside something looking not-dissimilar for 99p. The vagaries of our climate mean reliable harvests, or for that matter queen mating, is too ‘hit and miss’. In bumper years (like 2018) there’s a glut for the size of the market, in lean years (like 2012) the purchasers relying on supply are going to be disappointed.

        Which is why I place the emphasis on properly pricing and positioning the product (how many p’s can I get into a single sentence?). It should be prepared, jarred and labelled well, priced as a premium product and sold in the increasing number of places that cater for this type of product. Small scale amateur (not a good choice of word, but artisan* sounds a bit “ooh la la” and “not professional” sounds a bit too much like unprofessional) honey producers should have an advantage here as they can meet the demand for a local product. Larger scale regional producers are potentially caught in a no man’s land between the high-volume, low-price demands of the supermarkets and the truly local producer.

        This is when small scale producers can undermine their own position. They undervalue the product, sell it too cheaply and – in doing so – leave customers with an expectation that honey, even local honey, is a low-value product. If they also don’t bother preparing the honey well, with the odd leg, antenna or wing sneaking through to the jar, they also potentially damage the chances of other local producers selling their well-prepared honey at a respectable price.

        Fortunately Brexit will sort all this out, or will do nothing of the sort. We’ll either be swamped with millions of gallons of corn syrup laced with antibiotics or, with the borders tightly shut to imports of any kind (animal, vegetable or mineral), will all be turning our back gardens into allotments … in which case everyone will have a hive at the bottom of the garden.

        * Of course ‘artisan’ is the correct term here, as in “A worker in a skilled trade, a craftsperson; (in later use) esp. one utilizing traditional or non-mechanized methods.” (Oxford English Dictionary).

        Cheers
        David

        Reply
  3. Marlene

    Easy, very useful to me reading. Thank you. Am learning a-lot. Look forward to your next article.
    Kind regards

    Reply
  4. Emily

    A beekeeper I know once told me the secret to his prize winning wax block – it’s the same one he won with the year before 😉

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I was also once told the secret of a prizewinning wax block which had won competitions over several years. It was kept in its own 30 lb full honey bucket to maintain the lovely aroma.

      It might have been this that made me realise the ‘honey show’ competitive side of beekeeping wasn’t really for me. That and my shockingly bad honey cake!

      Many winning jars appear at multiple competitions …

      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  5. max

    Hi David,
    all interesting for me – reading on the other side of the globe in Australia.
    We sell our honey at the local market for $12/kg in a glass jar and give a dollar back when they return the jar …and buy more honey.
    The Australian Dollar is not worth much at the moment and I’m sure it sounds cheap.
    The sad part is that we need rain. It is very dry here and very little honey around.
    Will check some hives on Monday and hope for the best

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Max

      I had to look up your dollar exchange rate. Currently 1.82 to the much depleted and not so great British pound. It does sound inexpensive (not cheap, which has different connotations altogether) but if that’s what the visitors to the market are prepared to pay then that’s the price. Without a shop markup the price here would be over $30 (and about $40 in a shop) though it’s rare to see it being sold by the kg.

      I’d have thought the lack of rain (not an issue here 🙂 ), the consequent reduced nectar flows and limited amounts of local honey would – based upon my very simplistic understanding of supply & demand economics – have increased the prices?

      Are people just not interested in buying locally-produced ‘artisan’ honey? I ran out of space (and time) in the post to discuss geographic variation in pricing … and I also don’t have much experience or data to illustrate it. Suffice to say, there are parts of this country (and county) where there would be no chance of selling honey at £8-10 a jar. Even if it was a kilogram jar!

      Hope you get some of that much needed rain. Perhaps after this Brexit fiasco we might be able to export some – tariff free – to all those countries queuing up to do a trade deal with us (or perhaps not according to Julia Gillard this morning 🙁 ).

      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  6. Bee Man Bunty

    Hello,
    and thanks for the information given. I took a beekeeping course in 2017 and started my first colony in 2018, I seeked advice from mentors and experienced beekeepers from my association and from other associations too.

    I never recieved a response or in fact I received negative responses (give up beekeeping etc)..I lost my first colony due to poor laying queen, and laying workers and finally robbing. I now only rely on your posts and an a self learner and will start a new colony next season.

    I did all the appropriate beekeeping duties which was taught to me at the course and read books too. I think it could be a poor queen? Also the local bee inspector did not check my bees, when I kindly requested.
    Please wish me luck the 2nd time round. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Bee Man (or should that be Bunty?)

      I’d look to change your association. They usually have overlaps between the areas they cover and you’re not restricted in which you join. No association should be offering advice to give up beekeeping (perhaps unless it’s for health reasons). A mentor really is invaluable because so much is new in the first year or two. After that we all learn from our experiences and mistakes. I learn (or re-learn) things every year.

      The bee inspectors tend to be extremely busy at certain times of the year and they have to prioritise disease diagnosis and invasives like the asian hornet.

      I’d try and make contact with a more receptive association this winter and then try and start next season with more support. If you don’t want to purchase a nuc (which is probably the best thing to do) you can always try and attract a swarm to a bait hive. If there are other beekeepers within a mile or two it’s not at all unusual to be successful.

      I’d not necessarily depend upon any advice on this site (!). Whilst I try and make things as generic as possible what I discuss is what works for me and for the level of experience I already have.

      Good luck for the second attempt.

      If it’s any consolation I slaughtered by first queen within about a fortnight of buying a nuc. I ‘borrowed’ a frame of eggs from a friend and they reared a new Q and I’ve not really looked back since then. I think the lesson here is not to inspect unless you need to … it’s a real temptation to “have a quick look” as a beginner, but when you’re not quite sure what you’re looking at or for it’s always a risk.

      Best Wishes
      David

      Reply
    2. Josh

      There is nothing to learn from in success. I’m essentially self taught from great blogs like this an a select three YouTubers.

      Don’t give up it’s sooo good for the soul. Also have more than one hive. It amplifies the learning curve and gives you options.

      Great post David, we don’t import honey to NZ but Manuka is having a big impact here on non-Manuka values.

      I can’t wait till I experience the dilemma of what to do with my excess honey is an issue😜

      Reply
      1. David Post author

        Thanks Josh

        No honey imports sounds good 🙂 So much Manuka that non-Manuka prices are suppressed, less so.
        I don’t think there’s ever a ‘real’ surplus of honey. Friends and family will see to that 😉

        Cheers
        David

        Reply
  7. Eric Beaumont

    David,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion that a proper valuation of local honey ought to lead to proper pricing, but the sad truth is that beekeepers have never supported each other by doing either. The result is that a two-colony beekeeper will sell too cheaply (and often won’t even bother to cover costs) and the two thousand colony beekeeper sells cheaply in a blue barrel (it has been suggested that they either don’t want the extra work or don’t know how to go about packaging and marketing). In between lie those of us who seek to elevate the UK local honey market to a place we all agree it merits.

    I run seventy colonies in north-east London, Surrey and Essex for honey production and to pay my mortgage. I sell at farmers’ markets and fairs and have charged £12/lb. for five years without trouble; 135g jars go for £14/lb. There is no trick to getting the money: the beekeeper must first package the product well, select the market and have the courage to ask for it. Here are a few thoughts:

    1 Do not under any circumstance sell honey in 454g jars. No shop or supermarket does so; the largest retail jar is 340g. The 454 is dead and may only be exhumed for showing honey in competition. Put a 340 jar next to a 454: not a lot of difference, is there? This simple change will increase the return without raising the price. Hex jars sell better; nudge the price up each year.

    2 Do not expect to sell fast. If you do, the price is too low. I have come across small-scale beekeepers pleased with the success of their sales, but who don’t realise (or care) that the speed of sale is due to the low price of a quality product.

    3 Do not aim to compare, compete or relate to supermarket or downmarket honey in quality or price. Ignore it; know your market: it is none of the above.
    I suggested to a customer who wanted to pay less that a supermarket would sell her a 340 for £1. This usually opens up a conversation around provenance, quality, taste (that always seals it) the slow food movement and the environmental footprint of imports – in other words, the survival of our planet.

    In five years I have had one person say ‘you’re a bit dear’. I avoided engaging with her point, and she carried on tasting and paying: some people are programmed to pay the least and cannot see the reason for, or the difference between, a low and high price, or, as Oscar Wilde put it: ‘the cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’.

    Beekeepers must be persuaded to accept that their low price will retard public perception of quality and make life harder for those of us who do want to cover costs, or do rely on honey for part or all of our income. With that in mind, I disagree with your suggestion that ‘in a way it doesn’t really matter what you charge’. I think the subject ought to matter to every beekeeper in the land and should be discussed at every BKA meeting. If we do so, the ripples from such a pebble in the pond will spread far and wide, but if we don’t, the under-valuation, dismal packaging and variable return will continue.

    We need more beekeepers to operate like Marion Affleck and think like Stephen Auty; we need beekeepers to produce and sell a local product but with a national mind, working to raise the perception and price of the jar in the Welsh village, the Pennine hills or the flatlands of urban Essex. If bees can work together, why can’t we?

    Regards,
    Eric.
    PS: your post has stirred the mind and I am now contemplating a price rise which will take my 340 to £10. If it ends in tears, I will let you know.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Eric

      Many thanks for such a comprehensive and insightful response.

      My comment about “it doesn’t matter what you charge” was simply reflecting that, if it’s a hobby then it is “an activity done regularly in leisure time for pleasure”. More than 98% of beekeepers in the UK are hobbyists. Most have a small number of hives and produce an average of ~25-30 lb of honey per hive per year.

      But beekeeping is an unusual hobby because it is one in which you can recoup your costs. And some.

      I do think it matters what you charge and I’m totally in agreement with your comments on the endemic undervaluing of honey as a high quality product by many/most beekeepers – whether they have two or two thousand hives.

      Whether these beekeepers have a ‘responsibility’ to raise their prices to help those of us who do want to sell a high quality product at a premium price is perhaps debatable. It will take them more time and effort. They might not have it. They might not care.

      The alternative is that small scale quality producers raise their profile by stressing the benefits of their local honey. I think we both agree that there is a market and the increasing number of farmer’s markets, organic cafes and – as is just being set up here – local produce cooperatives, emphasises this point.

      Perhaps we’ll end up with three distinct markets …

      • Good local honey, well jarred, nicely labelled, premium quality and priced accordingly
      • Fred from the allotment … recycled jar (that might have had raspberry jam in it once, or curry sauce) with a handwritten label and a couple of bee legs for good measure
      • Supermarket imports, priced down to the £1, £3 and £5 threshold, increasingly sourced from the cheapest places possible.

      There may be another group – the large scale regional producers, but I’m not clear who they think their competition is. Is it the supermarkets or the local high-end artisan producers?

      I note from the BBKA annual survey that average prices for 2018 £5.49/lb. That, when compared with the prices you and Marion quote emphasises how much most undervalue it.

      Your other points are well made. I prefer square jars to hex’s, not least because they stand out a little better on the shelf (in a sea of hex jars!), they have a flat face for labelling and they have fewer corners at the shoulder to trap bubbles. My photo shows how similar they appear against a standard 1 lb round.

      There’s no need to sell fast and, as you say, if you’ve run out it’s probably because you’ve sold too cheaply. Properly stored, honey lasts for ages and I’ve always considered that the space a full honey bucket takes in storage is more than justified when you consider the contents are worth about £400.

      You make the same point I tried to in comparison with supermarket prices. Totally irrelevant. As are the prices charged by the high-end artisan outlets for the commercial regional honey. Local producers can more than match the quality and have the bonus of offering a local product.

      I get a lot of emails asking for local honey. I respond to them all. About 50% I never hear from again, presumably because they were put off by the price. The remainder buy, and buy again, and again. The 50% I never hear from have been influenced by the supermarket £1 for 340 g or Fred down the allotment who sometimes has honey for £3 a pound.

      Good luck with your repricing. We’re not yet at £10 for a 340 g jar here, but the shop prices are fast approaching it.

      I’m going to revisit this subject from a different angle later in the winter – provenance not pricing. This is something we don’t make enough of and which many customers I talk to want to know about.

      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  8. Stephen

    Hmm..provenance…..

    I have been wondering whether some sort of official D.O.P. style assurance scheme ought to be encouraged for the UK Honey sector…not sure how it would work or be applied – regional ? Honey type (eg Heather/Borage) but it’s worth considering

    Stephen

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Stephen

      I suspect UK honey, perhaps other than a very limited range of geographically-defined types, wouldn’t fit into the PDO (‘Protected Designation of Origin’) scheme. There is also the PGI scheme (‘Protected Geographical Indication’). Together these cover things like Melton Mowbray pork pies and Orkney beef. The additional classification type that might be applicable is TSG (“Traditional Specialities Guaranteed”) which fixes the names and promotes the quality, without reference to geography. The UK has relatively few foods protected in these ways (in comparison to Italy and France).

      The only honey I’m aware of protected in this way is thyme and pine honey from Greece, though there may be others.

      It’s certainly worth thinking about … I’m pretty sure these designations relate to both what is being produced and how it is produced. You could therefore exclude ultra-filtered and/or pasteurised honey.

      Cheers
      David

      Reply

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