Fake honey pouring into the Mexican market is becoming a serious problem for beekeepers and honey producers in Mexico.
The 100,000 tonnes of fake honey sold in the country each year have caused the national apiculture sector to lose an estimated 10.7 billion pesos (US $576 million) annually, according to the Bee Honey Regulatory Council.
With the national consumption of 100% natural bee honey in 2018 at 26,000 tonnes, the council calculates that the ratio of fake to real honey was four to one.
Jalisco led the country in honey production in 2017 with 5,815 tonnes. Other big honey producers were Chiapas, Veracruz, Yucatán and Oaxaca.
With 80% of Jalisco’s production being exported, it’s been deemed especially important to control the quality of honey produced in the state.
In September 2018, the Mexican Organization of Livestock and Food Certification gave its seal of approval to six producers in the state for good practices in the extraction and packaging of bee honey. Jalisco thus went from having zero such certifications to being the state with the most.
Former state Rural Development Secretary Héctor Padilla Gutiérrez said in 2018 that certification was a mandatory step in regulating the quality of Mexican honey, but the process has apparently been ineffective in combating the influx of fake honey into the market.
The production cost for a liter of real honey averages around 150 pesos while fake honey can be made for around a quarter of that price.
The worst part of the situation, according to Víctor Abarca, spokesperson for the honey council, is that the consumer is usually unable to tell the difference between real and fake honey, since the texture and makeup of the two are quite similar.
“Instead of consuming a beneficial product, they are [negatively] affecting their health because of the types of sugars the honey is adulterated with,” he said.
The Mexican Association of Honey Exporters said while the crudest form of adulteration, with sugar or corn syrup, is slightly detectable, other falsifications, made with syrups from beets, rice or potatoes — usually originating from China, Vietnam or India — are more difficult to notice.
Source: Reforma (sp)
CORRECTION: Estimated losses to honey producers were incorrectly reported in the earlier version of this story, although the headline was correct. The letter “b” became an “m” in the text of the story. We regret the error.