8 April 2016
Brock University — Communications & Public Affairs
Canadian beekeepers are trying to get the country’s biggest honey brands to buy more locally produced honey instead of packaging a blend of domestic and imported honey.
The issue has led to a public outcry about brands not supporting local beekeepers. A recent petition takes aim at one of Canada’s biggest honey brands and its parent company, claiming they “import cheaper honey from countries like China and Argentina and blend them with just enough Canadian honey so that they can still say Canadian on the bottle simply to improve their bottom line.”
Michael J. Armstrong, Brock University Associate Professor of Operations Management, teaches courses on quality improvement and holds professional certifications from the American Society for Quality.
Honey packaged as ‘Canada No. 1,’ as one major brand does, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s Canadian honey in the jar, explains Armstrong. “It refers only to the quality grade when it was packaged here. Honey packaged elsewhere would say ‘Grade No. 1’”
“The honey labels are precise and accurate, even if consumers sometimes misunderstand them,” he says.
Armstrong is available to comment on:
• What each part of the honey label does and does not mean.
• How the food labeling system is based on manufactured products while trying to give credit to both farmers and processors.
• Why Canadian consumers should be careful about being too “nationalistic” since Canadian honey exports exceed imports.
“While it’s great to support local beekeepers, consumers should be cautious not to be overly ‘patriotic’ in purchasing. That could cause other countries to do the same,” he says.
Agriculture Canada figures show Canada exports much more honey than it imports. In 2013, we exported 12.1 million kg (mostly to the USA and Japan), and imported 5.5 million kg (mostly from Argentina and Brazil).
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