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IBISWorld Examines The Trends Behind “Fake” Honey Manufacturing

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by Nathan Cloutman
Oct 31 2018

What’s the buzz on honey?

IBISWorld examines the trends behind “fake” honey manufacturing

A study on the global honey industry conducted by Macquarie University scientists have found that almost one in five of the 38 Australian honey samples sourced from supermarkets and markets had been adulterated, meaning the honey had been mixed with other non-honey substances. The adulterated honey was sourced from Victoria, Queensland, NSW and Tasmania, while samples sourced from South Australia and Western Australia tested pure. This study came off the back of the recent Fairfax & ABC investigation into Australia’s honey industry, which revealed that many honey products on our supermarket shelves are not 100% pure.

“Manufacturers have been producing adulterated honey, which is typically bulked up with sugar syrup or other products, to boost production artificially,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, Nathan Cloutman.  

Capilano was the largest honey producer that the Fairfax & ABC investigation accused of selling adulterated honey products. Six of the eight Allowrie products tested in the investigation contained adulterated honey. The company was previously in the news after Coles decided to remove its Allowrie brand from its shelves, stating that it wanted to support Australian honey producers. Allowrie products contain a significant proportion of imported honey from China and Argentina.

IBISWorld has explored the trends that might have encouraged companies to produce adulterated honey.

Health consciousness increasing the demand for honey

According to IBISWorld, global demand for honey is expanding rapidly as consumers are increasingly looking for natural alternatives to cane sugar and artificial sweeteners. Rising health consciousness has encouraged consumers to carefully consider the food they purchase, driving demand for honey.

“Australian honey production has grown significantly over the past five years. Rising demand for honey has led agriculture companies to increase their output and encouraged new independent beekeepers to enter the market,” said Mr. Cloutman.  

“Domestic honey producers are also benefiting from Australia’s reputation for producing high-quality agricultural products, with natural honey exports expected to grow at an annualised 8.8% over the five years through 2018-19,” said Mr. Cloutman.

Demand for Australian produce in Asian markets has grown strongly on the back of rising incomes in the region. China, Hong Kong and Singapore are now key export markets.

“While domestic honey producers are benefiting from rising demand, imports into the Australian market are also rising. New Zealand is a key source of imports, with demand for Manuka honey growing strongly on the back of its perceived medicinal properties.

The financial benefits of Manuka honey

Manuka honey has been one of the New Zealand’s star exports over the past five years, as it is considered a superfood and prized for its health benefits.

“Manuka honey is produced from the nectar of the Manuka tree, which grows uncultivated throughout New Zealand. It is promoted as having medicinal properties, and can generate strong returns for beekeepers,” said Mr. Cloutman.  

Exports of high-value Manuka honey have surged over the past five years, with many New Zealand honey producers successfully leveraging the country's reputation for pure, natural ingredients.

“However, the lucrative nature of Manuka honey has attracted controversy. There have been several instances of counterfeit Manuka honey being sold globally, and reports of people destroying the hives of their rivals to lessen competition,” said Mr. Cloutman.

The future for honey

According to IBISWorld, global demand for honey, in particular Manuka honey, shows no sign of letting up. This will support Australian and Kiwi beekeepers, driving growth in honey production.

“However, high demand for honey is likely to continue incentivising companies to produce adulterated or counterfeit honey to increase output volumes,” said Mr. Cloutman.     


IBISWorld Industry Reports used in this release:


For more information, to obtain industry reports, or to speak with an analyst, please contact:

Kim Do

Strategic Media Advisor – IBISWorld Pty Ltd
Tel: (03) 9906 3641 Mobile: 0422 773 995