Please have a look at the Proceedings of the two Bees for Development African Honey Trade Workshops on the subject of African honey trade. These are available for purchase (in CD format) at our website store or you can readthe following links;
No country can export honey to the EU without first being listed as a \'third country\'. This concerns a process of checking that no residues of chemicals and medicines used to treat animals, appears in animal products. Honey is classifed as an animal product in the EU. Achieving this status depends on having an up-to-date Residue Monitoring Plan.
In our experience most African countries have no need to export honey as urban supermarket demand is very high and growing. In some cases honey is imported, if this is the case this would suggest it might be more appropriate to aim to displace these imports with a local product. The domestic market has a lot of advantages. The prices earned through export are not necessarily higher: the world honey market is very competitive.
Mode of organisation for collection and payment
To mobilise and pack a product for the supermarket, in adequate volumes, is difficult, but this might be where the focus of intervention should be. The capacity building and infrastructural development required to develop efficient, safe and sustainable processes for collection, bulking and onward marketing are significant. Furthermore there is no one model that works across the board, as there are so many factors to consider. There is much to be said for market segmentation here. Producers must be able to bring their honey to collection points, possibly run by a co-operative of which they are a member, and be paid cash there and then or soon after. The co-operative may then sell the honey wholesale to a town-based packer. The advantage of the co-operative selling for wholesale is that they will earn cash more quickly enabling them to pay beekeepers more quickly. The extra tasks of storing, packing and supplying supermarkets means working capital is tied up and a co-operative may not be able to afford this with or without extra finance. This usually depends upon the volume of honey involved.
Experience suggests that if a co-operative handles less than 15 tonnes of honey they may do the packing themselves at a profitable rate. Above 15 tonnes, it may be better business to sell in bulk. Location and access to materials can make a big difference. Access to finance will probably still be needed to pay the beekeepers during a good season but this depends on the relationship the co-operative develops with their onward buyer. These are just some basic ideas based on experience from elsewhere. Even very well established co-operatives or processing companies must have access to credit if they are to handle significant quantities of honey otherwise their growth potential will be limited.
Janet Lowore, Bees for Development