Rich in vitamins such as B6, vitamin C, thiamine and minerals such as iron, calcium, copper and iron, organic honey has been recognized for centuries for its nutritional values. The growing demand for natural products with health benefits is the main driver of the growth of this market, which is becoming increasingly large and consolidated on an international scale.

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Organic honeycomb and dropper. 123@lightfieldstudio

Organic honey: surface area and market value

According to FiBL‘s latest report The world of organic agriculture (2021), there were over 3 million organic beehives in 2019, representing almost 3.4 percent of the world’s beehives. The vast majority were concentrated in Europe (47%) and Latin America (30%). Africa is in third place (14%). The country with the largest number of organic beehives is Brazil (629’939), followed by Zambia (368’274) and Bulgaria (264’069). 

The growing consumer preference for healthy and sustainable food choices boosted the global market for organic honey in 2020. It was valued at USD 698.70 Million in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 1,205.26 Million by year 2027, at a CAGR of 8.10% (forecasts by the Reports and Data). 

There are over 3 million organic beehives worldwide

Europe is the largest player in the global market. With a share of 39%, it’s market was valued at USD 67 million in 2020. It is closely followed by North America, with a 31% share. On the other hand, the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, stands out for its rapid market development, at a particularly high growth rate.

The most imported product

Honey is the main imported organic animal product. According to FiBL’s, imports in 2019 remained stable compared to the previous year around 18 000 MT. Besides honey, imports of organic animal products in the EU (eggs, diary products, meats) were negligible and together represent less than 1’000 MT. The chief importing countries are Japan, the UK, Italy, and Belgium.

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Honey extraction process. 123@MaksimKamyshanskii

The number of different types, flavors and diverse packaging has also increased. By type, the market is segmented into Manuka honey, Clover honey, Buckwheat honey, Echinacea, Rosemary honey, Almond honey, Sage and other honey types. The Almond segment is expected to witness the highest CAGR of 9.44%, Reports and Data’s forecast points out. These factors, together with growing consumer awareness of the numerous health benefits of using the product, will significantly increase honey imports.

Honey is the main imported organic animal product

Based on distribution channels, the offline segment is projected to be the largest segment in the market. Supermarkets and hypermarkets are the two main offline channels through which consumers can choose from a variety of organic honey flavors. Accessibility to numerous outlets, extended hours of operations and easy availability are the major reasons for the growth of this market. The segment is likely to witness a CAGR of 7.93% by 2027.

Organic certifications, a guarantee of quality

Organic beekeeping is booming and will continue to grow worldwide thanks to the increasing demand for organic honey and bee products used in food, medicine and esthetics. 

Nevertheless, one of the main challenges for new organic beekeepers is the conversion process due to the lack of access to knowledge on organic beekeeping practices and the organic certification process (FiBL). Furthermore, the production of good quality organic honey and pest control with organic methods are major obstacles for organic beekeepers.

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Beekeeper working in an organic apiary. 123@ LukinaOlga

There are many countries that currently produce certified organic honey. In the European Union, for example, certifications are governed by compliance with unavoidable rules: the apiaries must be located on land that ensures that within a radius of 3 kilometers the sources of nectar and pollen are made up essentially of organic crops or, where appropriate, wild vegetation. This guarantees a sufficient distance to avoid contamination of the hives by pesticides and herbicides and to ensure the health of the bees. 

Moreover, few countries in the EU have come up with organic standards for honey. In the UK, The Soil Association has the organic standards for honey since 1967. In the Netherlands, the term “biologisch” (organic) is protected by law and can only be applied to products certified by the SKAL-norm 995, that states the conditions to be met in the production and harvesting of honey by beekeepers and in its preparation and packaging. While in the United States, certification by the USDA is required in order to label honey products as “organic”, thus guaranteeing that the honey that manufacturers declare as organic is pure and providing consumer safety.

The importance of caring for bees

The production of organic honey promotes the use of good practices to maintain the balance and diversity of the agricultural ecosystem, supporting the sustainable use of natural resources, animal welfare, environmental quality and human health. In this sense, certifications are a guarantee of quality, safety and sustainability in the production of the product.

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Bee pollination is key to maintaining biodiversity. 123@TengkuAzam

More and more initiatives and institutions are being developed to protect bees and preserve the health of the planet. In 2015, for example, the organic organizations FiBL, Demeter, Naturland and Apicon created a new beekeeping platform: the IFOAM Apiculture Forum (IAF), with the aim of boosting the transition to organic beekeeping and traditional and sustainable practices. 

Also of note is the “Save Bees and Farmersproject, a network of more than 140 environmental NGOs, farmers’ and beekeepers’ organizations, charitable foundations and scientific institutions throughout the European Union, working together to reconcile agriculture, health and biodiversity.

Organic honey production maintains the balance and diversity of the ecosystem

Miel Muria: one of the best organic honeys in the world

From El Perelló (Tarragona), the Muria family has united the knowledge of their ancestors, the agro-environmental quality of the Mediterranean forests and the most advanced technology to create a range of beekeeping products of the highest quality. Beekeepers since 1810, Mel Muria stands out in the organic market for its quality and business values.   

The honey that comes from their hives is sold in the best specialized and gourmet stores in Spain and around the world. Considered a premium product, it is exported to more than 15 countries.

Mel Muria miel ecológica

Launched in 2016, its Muria BIO range offers natural pollen and up to 11 varieties of honey produced under organic and sustainable systems. Its extensive catalogue is complemented by a collection of Syrups, Food Supplements and organic Gummies, highlighting the recently launched Sweets, the first in Europe made with organic honey and with 100% compostable packaging. They are currently available in 4 flavors: honey and lemon, honey and eucalyptus, honey and propolis and honey and ginger.

Its honey is obtained from the more than 2,000 hives that Miel Muria has distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, the Mediterranean is considered a particularly favorable region for beekeeping production. «The warm climate of the Mediterranean allows the bee to produce during more months than in other countries», explains Rafel Muria, owner of Miel Muria. «The flowering time we have here is longer than the rest of Europe. Moreover, our great variety of local flowers allows us to produce unique honeys, starting in February with the almond blossom and finishing in October when we still have blooms», he adds.

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Muria BIO range by Miel Muria.

Internationally recognized quality

Miel Muria is synonymous with quality. Its mountain, rosemary, forest, orange blossom, thousand flowers, thyme and heather honeys have been awarded with many national and international prizes. Among them are the III Spanish-Portuguese Contest of Organic Honeys, which placed three of its honeys among the best in Spain, and the BIOLMIEL 2020 Awards, which consolidate the leadership of Muria‘s organic honeys at international level. They also have the Great Taste Awards 2020 in London, the highest recognition of excellence in the gastronomic world, being the first and only Spanish brand to achieve two stars in the contest. 

Considered a premium product, Muria honey is exported to more than 15 countries

Organic and quality honey

«The secret to produce a sustainable and quality honey is the combination of passion and experience that has been passed from generation to generation. The beekeepers of the Muria family have been working with bees since 1810, following the traditions and the way of our ancestors. For us it is a great satisfaction to work in nature with the bees. And when this work is recognized, it is a great honor for the whole Muria team», says Rafel Muria.

In addition, Muria‘s business vision goes beyond caring for bees. It also undertakes various actions to preserve biodiversity and promote pollination to produce a beneficial impact on the planet. Proof of this is that Muria has certified the first honey under the most established forest certification system in the world of Sustainable Forest Management in Europe, the PEFC, this 2021.

Mel Muria
Muria beekeepers have 2,000 hives distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

Organic beekeeping: protecting the future

«It is very important to take care of the bees so that they can continue their work. Hundreds of crops (apples, cherries, almonds, strawberries, melons) depend on pollination by bees and other insects», explains the owner of Miel Muria. «Luckily honey is made by bees, not by humans. We only take care to respect the product and put it in the jar in the most natural and ecological way possible. This way, when it reaches the consumer’s home, they can enjoy the treasure that the bees extract from the flowers, in its purest state», he adds.

Increasingly, farmers and beekeepers are working to make their crops and blooms as natural as possible. «Organic honey is an almost immediate future. It is the consumers themselves who value this type of product more. The intention is to preserve the future because the next generations can enjoy the natural resources the planet offers», concludes Rafel Muria.

Author: Ariadna Coma, Journalist

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