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Sweet conspiracy: seaside honey is prevented from conquering the market
A unique product from the Far East is not on the shelves of federal retailers
Seaside beekeepers make about six tons of honey per year. Now in the region there are almost 80 thousand beehives, 7,5 thousand people are engaged in the production of sweet and healthy product. Most of the honey is exported to Asian countries, in the central part of Russia it is practically nonexistent, they prefer Bashkir, Ural and Kuban honey, although seaside honey is not inferior in quality and taste to them.
ALL MAKES A BRAND
At the end of 2019, honey exports from Russia amounted to 2,4 thousand tons for a total amount of $ 5,5 million. The leading regions for honey production were Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, Altai and Krasnodar Territories, Rostov Region and Primorye. At the same time, the figures for export in Russia are completely different, for example, they buy honey from Primorye in Moscow only during the Days of the Far East, and you can’t find it on other days. Now, of the five supermarkets in Moscow, only one sells the coveted jars with the inscription "Far Eastern honey." The cost of this product is on average higher in the market: 500 grams cost 519 rubles. However, upon careful reading of the label, it turns out that the "wild honey" is collected in the town of Pushkino near Moscow.
The uniqueness of a seaside product is recognized not only by Russian, but also by foreign experts. Collected on taiga endemic plants (Amur linden, velvet, Manchurian maple), it has no analogues and is an example of a unique local product. It has long been enjoyed by the people of China, Japan and South Korea.
“Approximately 70% of our honey is exported to Asian countries; in Russia, this honey is little known. The fact is that shipping a product to the European part of the country is quite expensive. It is easier for wholesalers and retailers to buy honey in the central regions; the logistic costs of transporting a seaside product are too high. Therefore, mainly honey collected in the European part of Russia is sold in the West, ”said the beekeeper Andrei Skolov.
According to estimates by the chairman of the Primorsky and Far Eastern Association of Beekeepers Ramil Enikeev, approximately 50% of all products obtained in apiaries of the Far Eastern Federal District are exported. The remaining honey remains in Russia.
“In Primorye, approximately 80% of all honey in the Far East is produced. Beekeepers sell their product to wholesalers. The product is sold to someone who calls a higher cost. Often, beekeepers do not sell bee products at a fair price, ”complains Ramil Enikeev.
In western Russia, buyers prefer promoted brands, however, according to the president of the Russian National Association of Beekeepers Arnold Butov, not all honey on the shelves is collected in the region where it was supposedly brought from.
“There is a promoted brand - Bashkir honey. But think about it, can the Republic of Bashkortostan produce such an enormous amount of honey that they will be littered with store shelves throughout the country? Beekeeping products from Bashkiria, from the Urals and Kuban are actively faked today. Honey is being bought from Chuvashia, Voronezh, Tver, Ivanovo, Belgorod regions, and sometimes from Primorye. In general, from everywhere. Then all this is mixed, packaged and sold as Bashkir or, for example, Kuban honey. The market is awash with crafts, ”notes Arnold Butov.
The head of the association adds that Primorsky honey is also a brand, with a high-quality and unique one, but few know about it outside the Far Eastern Federal District.
“Seaside honey is very useful, it is as unique a brand as Bashkir honey. Unfortunately, the product is often made; beekeepers have to sell it for a penny. To transport honey from the Far East is quite expensive, and the competition in the Russian market is high, ”explains Arnold Butov.
According to him, the problem of honey counterfeiting in the near future will be able to solve the chipping, which is already being implemented in some apiaries. But, Far Eastern beekeepers are suspicious of this idea, they believe that state intervention in an unnecessarily “free market” will help to solve this problem.
“The chiping initiative went from Bashkiria from small beekeepers. But this will not solve the problem of counterfeit honey. The industry needs competent state regulation and careful quality control by the authorities, because today chaos is happening literally throughout the country, ”says Ramil Enikeev.
According to the chairman of the society of beekeepers of the Anuchensky district “Renaissance” Andrei Yanchuk, when a dubious product appears on the market under the name “Primorsky honey”, this very strongly affects the reputation of beekeepers in Primorye, and contracts for the supply of honey abroad are disrupted.
The Ministry of Agriculture of Russia said that a working group had been created under the department on regulation and development of the beekeeping industry, whose tasks include improving the regulatory framework. It includes representatives of interested federal executive bodies, experts from the scientific and industry community.
EXIT THE SHADOW
According to beekeepers, in recent years, the volume of deliveries to the PRC has also begun to decline - the celestial Empire began to set more stringent phytosanitary requirements for coastal honey. The problem is that China is ready to buy more Far East honey, since there is very high demand, but beekeepers cannot satisfy this demand.
“The Chinese want us to supply them 100-200 tons of honey, but we do not collect so much. Primorye beekeepers are not ready to step on the Asian market by leaps and bounds, while industrial beekeeping is in our infancy. A powerful production is needed, on which several times more bee colonies will operate, and hundreds of people will work. In the 80s, about 15 thousand tons of honey was mined in Primorye, and now only six thousand tons, ”Andrei Yanchuk explains.
Industrial production of honey in Primorye is established by the resident of the free port of Vladivostok - the company "Saldan". She has a modern honey processing workshop, where about five to ten tons of honey per month are packed. The company was created to help local producers and provide quality products to the Far Eastern, Russian and foreign markets, but beekeepers were not happy about this. According to the company's deputy general director Roman Volkov, not all beekeepers in Primorye are ready for a civilized development of the market.
“The problem of many beekeepers is that they don’t want to step out of the shadows, register their apiaries, receive veterinary certificates and be honest about the quality of the product. Obtaining documents makes it possible to engage in sales for export and within the country. About half of the beekeepers who turn to us do not have documents, so they do not have the opportunity to sell their honey for export. But, anyway, I want to note that people are trying, studying the necessary requirements of the Ministry of Agriculture, which are exhibited for the quality of honey. We, in turn, give advice and help all beekeepers who are interested in selling their honey, ”said Roman Volkov.
The Government of Primorsky Krai together with beekeepers is discussing the possibility of compensating logistic costs and supporting beekeepers who want to enter the Russian market. But so far, all this is only at the discussion stage.