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CATCH THE BUZZ – How Much Honey, Really…

CATCH THE BUZZ – How Much Honey, Really… EZezine

What the 2010 Honey numbers don’t tell you.

On Friday, Feb 25, at 3:00 PM, the USDA ARS released the results of their annual honey industry survey. It is an eagerly awaited report by most in the industry, and many in affiliated industries…like growers needing pollination, businesses using honey, and suppliers selling to beekeepers. Lots of honey is good for everybody’s business. But here’s what the numbers don’t tell you, and it’s unfortunate, but Bee Culture does the digging every year so you can see what’s really going on.

The numbers were good news this year, for a change. Production was up 20% from last year’s all time low, ever, to 175.9 million pounds. Colony count was up 166,000 from last year, a third of which was in California (which finally got some rain), most of the rest in the Dakotas and Florida. For a detailed breakdown of all of the stats, check out the April issue of our magazine where you’ll find an indepth review of all of these numbers.

But here’s the numbers that you need to know right now. We imported 252 million pounds of honey this year, compared to 211.4 million pounds last year, a 41 million pound increase. We exported 30.4 million pounds this year, compared to 29 million last year, a negligible change. Stocks held over are up 8 million pounds to 45.3 million pounds still sitting in U.S. beekeeper’s warehouses. And the U.S. population is up 1.7 million people since last year’s count.

What these numbers enable us to do is calculate the per capita consumption of honey each year. Here’s our numbers:

Honey Income.

Imports – 252 million pounds

U.S. Production – 176 million pounds

Stocks held from 2009 – 37 million pounds

Honey on loan – 4.1 million pounds

Total – 469.1 million pounds

Honey Out Go.

Exports – 30.4 million pounds

Stocks held this year 45.3 million pounds

Total – 75.7 million pounds

Income minus Out Go = 393.4 million pounds consumed in the U.S. during 2010. Divide that number by the population of 308.7 million, and your per capita consumption rounds out to 1.27 pounds per person, or 20.4 ounces per person.

That amount has not budged more than an ounce or two, up or down, in the 25 years we have been calculating that figure. Moreover, the amount of imported honey, now 54% of all honey consumed in the U.S. continues to grow. So more people are eating the same amount of honey, but that amount rounds out to be a squeeze from a honey bear at 11 ounces from foreign sources. That means U.S. beekeepers are only selling 9.4 ounces of their honey to each U.S. honey consumer.

What that tells me, is, that with all the hand wringing and dooms day messages being sent by all the people who care…consumers still aren’t eating more honey. Honey bee and beekeeper support is, perhaps, a lot more noise than action.

For the full report on the 2010 honey crop go here. For a full analysis of what these numbers really mean, see the April issue of Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping.


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