If you are fortunate enough to have tried honey, “straight from the hive’ (unblended and minimally processed) you will discover that no two honeys are ever really alike. This is simply because honey takes on the characteristics of the plant nectar collected by the bee. The nectar composition depends upon which plants are blossoming that time of year and the particular mix of plants within range of the bees. The plants themselves are affected by the soil and climate. The French word, “Terrior” is used to describe the importance of a place to the characteristics of the product grown or produced there. Like wine, coffee and tea which take on the characteristics of the place it is grown, honey is the product of its surroundings.
With honey, this may include;
- The specific species and varieties of plants, both wild and cultivated
- The environmental conditions including climate, topography, water sources and man-made conditions such as crops, pastures and parks
- The local knowledge and technical skills of the beekeepers and the importance of the honey collection process to the properties of the honey
- The ability to produce the product in quantities that make it viable from an economic point of view and some history of production to prove it
Honey is produced in almost every country in the world. And many countries are becoming focused on the unique characteristics of their locally produced honey product. This is accomplished by protecting the plants and their habitation, setting standards for quality, composition and labeling, and developing ways to measure the unique properties of their honey to protect their market.
World Honey ProductionThe following table is offered as an indicator of the volume of honey produced by country, but keep in mind that most of this honey is industrial-grade and not destined for the honey pots on our tables. Largest producers of honey for both table and industrial use.
European Commission: Geographical indications and traditional specialties (PDO, PGI, TSG)
World Trade Organization: FAOSTAT