Copa-Cogeca press EC to act on “massive honey fraud” through transparent labeling
12 Apr 2023 --- Agri-cooperatives and European farmers association Copa-Cogeca is launching a campaign to tackle widespread honey fraud in the EU, mobilizing beekeepers to call on the European Commission (EC) to enforce country-of-origin labeling. This closely follows EC investigations revealing that 46% of collected samples of honey imports are suspected of being adulterated with syrups.
The Commission, in close and strong collaboration with Member States, should increase the number of controls at customs level. In addition, actors found guilty of exporting to the EU adulterated honey should be immediately put on a ‘red list’ and block their commercial relations with the EU,” Federico Facchin, senior policy advisor at Copa-Cogeca, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Copa-Cogeca denounced the situation last month, underscoring that it is time for the EU to act decisively on honey fraud.
But now, the association calls for beekeepers to urge the EC, through social medias and under the hashtag #HoneYstLabellingNow, for more transparent labeling to be incorporated later this year in the upcoming revision of the EU Honey Directive.
“The situation is extremely worrying and we need a quick response from EU decision-makers. All European beekeepers agree on the problem but also on the major European solutions,” says Stanislav Jaš, chair of the Copa-Cogeca honey working party.
“In light of the ongoing revision of the honey directive, European beekeepers and their cooperatives are calling for transparent labeling of the country of origin, with the percentage in descending order, enhancing better traceability and a modern harmonized European framework for laboratory testing of honey.”
According to Copa-Cogeca, EU professional beekeepers are “on their knees.” Battling simultaneously a climate crisis, soaring prices and honey fraud.
“Several important European markets such as Hungary, Spain and Italy have ceased to function. The increase in beekeepers’ selling prices is not passed on to the market, which prefers cheaper imported honey, today mainly from China, but in the future why not from Vietnam and India,” note Copa-Cogeca.
Hungary used to export almost all production. However, in the last two years, the country’s exports have halved, linked to a drop in national production, according to Facchin.
“In the past, the national consumption relied only on national honey, but now the national consumption is also based on Ukraine’s honey. This is due to soaring production costs, a decrease in national production and Ukraine gaining market share through cheap imports,” he explains.
“The Spanish production costs have increased a lot and they cannot continue to produce at low prices. Spain has very small direct selling; all the honey goes to the market and competes directly with international prices. Meanwhile, Italy has been very affected by climate change (as well as Spain) and costs of production have strongly increased. National production cannot compete with imported honey,” Facchin continues.
Moreover, Jaš explains that “fake honey” is entering the EU at a cost as low as €1.5 (US$1.62) per kg. In 2021, the main origin countries of honey imports in the bloc were Ukraine (31%) and China (28%), according to Eurostat. Compared to five years earlier, the EU increased its imports by 7% while its exports decreased by 10%.
The associations highlight that the EU could lose a third of its hives in the coming years, which would be replaced by honey imports.
Improved fraud detection methods
Copa-Cogeca stresses that current official methods for detecting fraud are not suitable.
“A complete panel of frequently updated and validated techniques is necessary to highlight a maximum of frauds,” explain the associations.
“Considering also that the addition of sugar syrup does not cover other types of adulteration, such as immature honeys, false designations or the addition of coloring agents, frauds could be even more massive,” they highlight.
Last month, scientific testing on US and UK honey products claiming to be mānuka found 100% of the 46 brands are not from New Zealand.
By Marc Cervera
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.