W37: Honey Update

Published Sep 22, 2023
W37: Honey Update

In W37 in the honey landscape, as of Sept-22, Chile had 10,504 registered beekeepers, marking a 9.4% increase year-on-year (YoY) –with a total of 1.4 million beehives distributed across 20,150 apiaries nationwide, representing a 4% YoY increase. The regions with the highest number of beekeepers in 2022 were Maule and La Araucanía, both with 17% national representation, followed by O'Higgins and Biobío at 12%. However, the beekeeping sector in Chile faces substantial challenges in 2023. This includes the wildfires in four regions (Maule, Ñuble, Biobío, and La Araucanía) in Feb-23, which affected approximately 55 thousand beehives, with around 4 thousand beehives burnt. Furthermore, the floods that followed these events resulted in the loss of around 14 thousand hives, making this year particularly critical for the national beekeeping industry. Another issue plaguing beekeeping is food fraud in honey products, where products are falsely labeled as honey and sold at very affordable prices, leading consumers to adapt their preferences to a product that is not genuine honey.

Japan's honey production has remained stable at around 2,800 metric tons (mt) annually, dropping to 2,745 mt in 2021, representing a 6.3% decrease from 2020. This falls far short of the country's consumption level, which is nearly 50 thousand mt. Consequently, Japan heavily depends on honey imports, creating an opportunity for Chilean honey due to its diverse sources, production locations, and tourist appeal. Furthermore, Chile benefits from a reduced honey import tariff from down from 25.5% to 6.3% following the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement in Feb-23. Chilean honey import tariffs into Japan are set to further decrease to 3.1% in Apr-24 and to 0% in Apr-25. This could also open up export opportunities for Chilean honey to other CPTPP members including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The presence of the invasive Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in the Valencian Community, Spain, poses a serious threat to the honey sector, which is already grappling with low prices, drought, and diseases. LA UNIÓ organization, is calling on the Ministry of Agriculture to spread information and offer training to beekeepers across the country, as this invasive species can travel up to 90 to 100 km in a year. Additionally, LA UNIÓ plans to seek aid for beekeepers who experience bee mortality due to wasp attacks.

Lastly, Colombian "Melmonte" honey, produced in the southwest of Antioquia Province, has earned its place among the "50 Best Honeys in the World" as awarded at the 48th International Beekeeping Conference held in Chile. Its unique qualities lie in its exceptional sweetness and purity, notable for the absence of agrochemicals and heavy metals commonly found in honey due to global agricultural practices. This exceptional purity is attributed to the bees' pollen collection from diverse flowers in the cloud forest ecosystem where they reside, far from urban areas and large-scale farming activities.

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