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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Honey Market Chat, February ‘24


The Quarterly Honey Market Chat is a space for honey buyers to connect and inform honey producers – the beekeepers. Here’s what the teams at Egmont Honey and Airborne Honey have to say about the markets as honey is rolling in to sheds all over New Zealand…

Airborne Honey – John Smart, Bev Foulds, Ian McRae.

John Smart

John: For me, it’s been 14 happy years talking with beekeepers and buying Airborne’s annual honey requirements. Over these years I have built some great relationships with beekeepers during a period where the industry has gone through some of the most significant changes in its history.

It’s time to pass on my honey buying responsibilities to Bev and Ian while I focus on growing international sales. Ian has worked for Airborne for nearly 30 years, initially as a beekeeper before Airborne sold its hives and Bev has been with Airborne for 10 years in a food safety/compliance role.

Thank you for your support and best wishes – John.

And from Bev and Ian…

We are at the start of another season actively talking to beekeepers to understand what to expect from the 2024 honey crop.  Early indications suggest the crop will be better than last year.

We are buying all honey varieties, looking to fill our consistent export, domestic and bulk requirements. Give us a call if you have honey you are wanting to sell honey or have any questions.

2023 Export sales are expected down in volume and value compared to the three previous years. This trend is likely to continue while international household budgets remain under pressure and the consumption of monofloral declines in favour of multifloral mānuka.

Pasture and clover honey prices are likely to be the same or slightly stronger than 2023 on average, however this depends a lot on export sales demand and the 2024 honey crop.

On the domestic front Airborne continues to grow strongly, increasing market share in a very competitive market. It has been great to see household consumption of honey continue to increase in New Zealand, due to more affordable manuka prices and honey being sold in easy-to-use upside-down squeeze packs.

We look forward to talking with you all over the next few months.

Egmont Honey – James Annabell – Chief Executive

I’ve spent the last few weeks speaking with beekeepers in different parts of the country, as well as surveying the situation in our own hives, and it promises to be a productive honey season.

James Annabell.

I took a look over Taranaki by the air recently and the mānuka flowering is very strong. What stood out to me was areas that would usually have hives, were without. It’s evidence on the ground of what a lot of beekeepers have been tipping – that they are not willing to make the costly journey to some mānuka blocks this season. You can’t blame them.

At Egmont Honey we are in a position of sitting on high levels of mānuka honey inventory and so there will be little change in our pricing for mānuka honey to that of last season. Beekeepers shouldn’t take from this that we are not buying mānuka though – we have bought a lot in the last year to help keep business going. Pulling a silver lining from the situation, the access to mānuka honey allows us to push into more international markets. Our partners want to see a guarantee of supply and so holding a large inventory of honey is very important, as is access to ongoing supply.

So with that in mind, we are currently very willing buyers of bush and pasture honey. Production of pasture honey in particular appears to have been strong and so pricing is similar to last season. Pricing above that point makes us uncompetitive internationally. As it is we are competing on the shelves in Woolworths Australia with honey bought from Aussie beekeepers for AUD$4.50.

The country’s export honey totals declined last year, but we are growing some new areas. Recently we sent out a shipment to Korea where our honey is now on the shelves of Hyundai Department Stores, a major retailer. Even more promising is a deal struck with a Chinese eCommerce distributor. Green shoots are out there!

There you have it – we need more bush and pasture honey, mānuka we all know the situation, but we are still buying some, especially off beekeepers who are offering it alongside a portfolio of other honey varieties. With hive numbers in NZ declining, it’s important for us to strike up productive relationships with beekeepers. So, whatever honey is in your shed, get in contact and get on our radar, we want to know what you’ve got!


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