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Coup de grâce for European beekeepers: Adulterated imported honey!


BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, 24 Mar 2023 - The European Commission just published the results of an extensive investigation into the honey market, an investigation that beekeepers have long been calling for. What beekeepers have been repeating over and over again for years has now been revealed by new analytical methods: imported honey is adulterated to a large extent. This affects a significant quantity of products since Europe imports around 40% of the honey it consumes.

This coordinated action on imported honey is the largest ever carried out. It was carried out by three European Commission bodies, the Directorate-General for Health (DG Health), the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), over several months. Of the 320 samples analysed from 15 Member States importing honey from 20 countries, 46% were suspected of not complying with the requirements of the so-called Honey Directive.

"The results are shocking. We must clean up the honey market, imported honey is not honey! We have been saying this for years! Now that this has been proven by new analytical methods and not by those outdated for years, we must act! The authorities must do something because European beekeepers are dying," says Lasse Hellander, the new President of BeeLife.

Products sold as "honey" from China are suspicious in 74% of cases, in 100% of cases for products imported from the UK but not produced there!

These products entering the EU market at low prices compete with honey produced by European beekeepers, whose production costs constantly increase. In addition, climate change increases the risks by reducing the availability of nutritional resources for our pollinators, leading to a loss of production capacity in the sector; not to mention the problems of coexistence with intensive agriculture, which jeopardises the health of bees.

Beekeepers are in difficulty, as even if they manage to produce, they cannot find outlets on the European market for their products.

If we damage the beekeeping sector, we damage European pollination and food production. Although many pollinators pollinate crops, it cannot be denied that honeybees significantly contribute to the pollination of almost all flowering plants and crops. The beekeeping sector also provides a tool for monitoring the environment via honey bees, which can help evaluate policies’ implementation.

Once again, the voice of European beekeepers has sounded the alarm on what is happening on the field in the Member States. Beekeepers are now asking the institutions to make a greater effort:

1/ for the sanctions against fraudsters to be exemplary and,

2/ for the new analytical methods used by the Joint Research Centre to evaluate the samples to be validated at the European level as soon as possible to effectively combat adulteration and distortion of competition.

Anna Ganapini, Vice-President of BeeLife and member of CONAPI (the largest beekeepers' cooperative at the European level), appeals to all European citizens: "We ask European consumers to support their fellow beekeepers. Through this survey, we see that some origins are more at risk than others. We can only ask consumers to maintain their confidence in our production chains and to buy honey with a quality label, or produced in their country or in Europe.”

We are grateful for the groundwork laid by the European Commission, and we now hope that it will meet the expectations of European beekeepers and consumers.

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Contact: Noa SIMON DELSO, BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination:

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