Export or Local consumption?
Honey is greatly prized the world over and the demand is high, and has increased steadily over the past 10 years. The possibility to harvest, extract, process and place honey in sealed containers ready for export is very attractive and earns hard currency, generating badly needed foreign exchange. For the most part, beekeeping development projects often aim to export honey produced.
However, the local demand for honey is often high, easier to satisfy and cheaper (lower transport, lower export taxes etc.), and is thus, just as attractive. Rupert’s Honey has experienced that it is better for the project to sell locally, producing honey to export standards and increasing the quality of locally available honey. Depending on transport, honey is easily sold into urban markets.
Shelf life of honey and ease of marketing it.
Honey as a natural product has the ability to stay viable for many years. This is of immense advantage to small scale farmers in rural areas when there are periods of low crop production such as the rainy season, or in periods of adverse weather. Having stored honey mitigates the risk of low food production, giving people something to market and sell and thus buy food when there is little else to sell. The increase in food security by having honey to eat, process in baking and market to purchase other foods makes it a wonderful product. At the same time beekeeping is sustainable (if practiced responsibly) and thus honey as a commodity is almost always available to someone with enough bee hives.
Niche products such as honey in the comb, or ‘chunk honey’ (a bottle of honey with a piece of honey comb placed in it), or section honey are easier to sell locally than attempt to export them due to their fragile nature.
Both export and local markets are achievable with beekeeping development, especially after the second year, when the hives are producing consistently and modern extraction equipment is warranted. The value of satisfying a local demand for honey and bee products