European beekeepers have warned that more than 10m beehives throughout the EU will go.
They say it’s not because of dwindling bee populations, but because they are not paid enough for honey.
The beekeepers say there was no price increase for honey, despite a drop in production in the main producing and exporting countries in the south and east of the EU, caused by bad weather last year.
Meanwhile, since 2013, European honey producers have been battling for market share with increasing imports at low prices, notably from China, at prices (€1.24/kg in 2019) that they cannot compete with.
The average production costs in the EU were at €3.90/kg in 2018, said Etienne Bruneau, Chair of the Working Party on Honey in Copa-Cogeca, the EU grouping of farmer and agricultural organisations from member states.
He said: “This difference in prices can only be explained by the major addition of sugar syrup, which is cheaper for production, and difficult to detect during border controls in Europe.”
He warned that the viability of the European beekeeping sector is at risk, and the EU’s self-sufficiency in honey could be eroded.
He said this also threatens other sectors, in European farming and horticulture, that depend on beekeeping for pollination services, as well as biodiversity.
The Copa-Cogeca Working Party has proposed that the EU ensure that any honey imported from third countries conforms to the EU’s definition of honey, and origin labelling be introduced on all honey.