Cheap Chinese Honey Overwhelms EU

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.) 

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Cheap Chinese honey is flooding the European Union and the continent’s beekeepers are crying out for help.

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella body for EU farmers and co-ops, is calling for the European Commission to act.

In a letter sent to EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, Copa-Cogeca says the cheap Chinese honey does not have the same production or labor costs as the European product.

Etienne Bruneau, chairman of Copa-Cogecas’ working party on honey, is urging the EU Commission to step up controls and look into the possibility of establishing anti-dumping measures against the shoddy imports.

“Europe has a long tradition in producing and consuming honey,” Bruneau says. “Beekeeping is an important economic activity and it is vital for crop pollination in Europe. With production of around 215, 000 tonnes of honey a year and increasing consumption, the EU has a 60% self-sufficiency rate.”

Bruneau says that in the last five years, there has been a 50% jump in honey imports from China coming into the EU, mainly due to their low prices.

“Import prices for Chinese honey are the lowest of all honey import prices. They are at least two times lower than the European prices. European honey producers are therefore facing unfair competition which threatens thousands of jobs mostly in EU rural areas and which could deepen the current economic crisis.”.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen says with the low import prices and with such a big difference between the Chinese and European prices, production costs and labor costs, European honey producers can no longer earn a decent income.

“In these conditions, they would need three times more hives than the current average of 400 hives which are necessary for them to earn a decent income and make a living from their activity, which is simply not feasible,” Pesonen says.

“We are therefore calling on the European Commission to investigate on the possibility of establishing anti-dumping measures, drawing on experience and actions already taken in other parts of the world like the United States. Controls also need to be improved so that we can better value the intrinsic quality of honey and offer consumers a safe and high quality product.”

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