Many beekeepers depend on local middlemen to buy their honey. In a weak bargaining position, beekeepers often sell their honey at a fraction of the real value.
Honey is not a commodity traded on the stock exchange. The price varies widely depending on production costs, climate, vegetation zones and the yield per bee colony. In many honey-producing areas, price wars have pushed honey prices to unsustainable levels for beekeepers and their families.
In the US and Europe, a large percentage of the imported honey is produced by impoverished beekeepers in developing countries in Latin America and Asia. Most beekeeping families live in remote locations with limited access to transport or market information. As a result, many beekeepers depend on local middlemen to buy their honey. In a weak bargaining position, beekeepers often sell their honey at a fraction of the real value.
Beekeepers from developing countries could sell their honey for a higher price in developed markets, but often cannot gain entry due to quality requirements. Producers often lack the infrastructure to differentiate the types of honey or stoke and transport it without negatively affecting quality.
Fairtrade offers producers a Minimum Price for their honey and links beekeeper-run cooperatives directly with Fairtrade buyers, cutting out middlemen and paving the way for longer term sustainability.
Among other things, Fairtrade Standards for honey include:
- Producers are small family farms organized in cooperatives (or associations) which they own and govern democratically.
- The Fairtrade price is paid directly to the producer cooperatives.
- Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals, ban genetically modified plants, and encourage sustainability.
- Pre-harvest lines of credit are given to the cooperatives if requested, of up to 60% of the purchase price.
- No forced or child labour.
A Fairtrade Premium is included in the purchase price and is used by cooperatives for social and economic investments such as education, health services, processing equipment, and loans to members.