The Importation of Honey: Why things aren’t as they seem

Since I ventured into beekeeping 8 years ago the regulations on the importation of honey (and the illicit honey trade) have been an important talking point. For years the issue has bubbled to the surface and died down only for the cycle to restart all over again.

There are 2 very important pieces of legislation at play. The Trinidad and Tobago Beekeeping and Beeproducts Act essentially bans the importation of honey and our trade agreements with CARICOM that facilitate the free movement of goods.

But is importing honey from CARICOM nations the issue? In my opinion, it’s not. Why? Because Trinidad and Tobago already produces more honey than any of our English-speaking neighbours excluding Jamaica. If all of the honey produced in Grenada was sold in Trinidad it would do very little damage to the local industry. The real challenge is the ‘passing off’ of “honey” from other countries like China and India as being produced within the region.

While many would be tempted to go through the talking points of checks and balances and adequate testing our industry has long passed that point. And, as the United States Department of Agriculture data clearly shows, we are already importing. We (T&T) are the largest importers of ‘honey’ in the southern Caribbean.

Where is all this honey going? On supermarket shelves and groceries, being sold at the side of the road with someone’s borrowed (or stolen) apiary number most likely. All while honey production within the United States has steadily declined year after year. Yes, the United States also, now imports more honey than it produces….crazy right? We are (illegally) importing honey from a country that imports more honey than it produces. A country that has its issues with large volumes of honey fraud. After all, honey is one of the most faked foods in the world.

I’ve also thought about the idea that bringing cheap imports will lower prices and I don’t know if that is true. With all of the foreign honey, and adulterated honey currently on the market the price hasn’t changed. All it has done is created an avenue for greedy people to fill their pockets by labelling imported honey as local. This, I believe is the real challenge. By doing this the rights of the consumer to make informed decisions for themselves and their families are being taken away.

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food” – Hippocrates

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