Goodbye sugar! With 240% growth in 10 years, honey is fast becoming India’s FAV sweetener

Honey. Now it’s in your tea, salad, juice, yogurt, even your face pack. Liquid gold is widely available as a health food and sugar substitute. According to data released by Indian Honey Alliance, the country currently has 19.34 lakh bee colonies and India produces around 1,33,200 metric tonnes of honey every year. However, honey data in India is not accurate to the last figure as many beekeepers are not registered with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) or the National Bee Board (NBB). In an exclusive interaction with Business Today, Deepak Jolly, General Secretary, Indian Honey Alliance, reveals the story of India’s honey industry and its opportunities.

“I should not think that even millionaires can eat anything nicer than real butter and honey for fresh bread and tea.” – Dodie Smith

Honey boom! 10% growth rate in the next 5 years
At first, honey may have only been associated with health and medicinal uses, but over the years it has become a part of our food and beverage menu. The beauty industry is also increasingly using honey in its products. Honey production in India increased by 242.86 percent from 35,000 metric tonnes in 2005-06 to 1,20,000 metric tonnes in 2018-19, data from the Honey Alliance of India shows. India’s honey production during 2019-20 is estimated at 1,15,000 metric tonnes. Independent estimates also indicate that the honey industry in India will report a compound annual growth of 10 percent between 2022 and 2027. for growth. Now India has the opportunity to become the “honey capital” of the world. Currently, because there is no unified information, the opportunity is being denied,” said Jolly.

“Keeping bees is like the direction of the sun’s rays.” – Henry David Thoreau

Honey zones
Honey is produced in India, but productivity varies from state to state. States like Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Punjab, West Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal have high honey concentration. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Shillong and Orissa are medium range producers, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman Nicobar. Low volume honey producers in India.

Indian honey travels to 83 countries
More than half of India’s honey production is exported to 83 other countries, with the United States being the largest importer. Other exporters are Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Canada, Qatar. India is one of the largest exporters of honey in the world and exported 74,413 metric tonnes of honey during 2021-2022, which was worth Rs 1,221.17 crore. “The figures are under-reported and as the export data shows, the opportunities for increased exports are not being exploited. India is the 9th largest exporter of natural honey with only 3.85 percent of global honey exports,” adds Jolly.

What is the valuation of the entire honey industry in India?
“India’s honey market is buzzing with excitement as the pandemic draws attention to the need for healthy living,” says Jolly. Along with exports, the domestic market is valued at around Rs 3,000 crore.

Chance
“The beekeeping industry faces many challenges mainly due to the fragmented nature of the sector. There is a disconnect between the various stakeholders and hence strengthening the ecosystem is crucial. Some of these challenges include missing data, lack of technical knowledge, market linkages and financial support, disease infestation in colonies, availability of flora and fauna,” adds Jolly.

“Does the church set the clock to ten? And do you still have honey for tea?’ – Rupert Brooke, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

Why Honey Alliance?
“The Indian Honey Alliance (IHA) was established as a dedicated industry body to focus exclusively on the interests of the honey industry. This will ensure that honey takes the pride of place it deserves, without getting lost in food associations that respond to greater interest. IHA boasts an inclusive membership with top honey companies as founding members and includes beekeepers, farmers, processors, producers and scientific experts. We are here to make a difference,” said Jolly.

“I love you so much my dear. I love you too, money.” – Toba Beta, my ancestors were ancient astronauts

Home grown honey brands
The field of honey production and packaging has become interesting in recent years with the emergence of new labels. While Indian homes have traditionally consumed bottles of Dabur or Baidyanath honey, there are now many alternative brands to choose from. Some interesting labels marketing themselves through social media and catering to a niche clientele are Under the Mango Tree, Local Pahadi, Kapiva, Organica, Honey and Spice etc.

“Soothe your throat with honey, not words.” – Marty Rubin

Honey with everything
Spread it on your bread or parathas, eat it with pancakes, in your tea, coffee or as you like – honey has excellent health benefits and is especially useful for all those who live in polluted, congested cities. It’s also a healthy, high-energy supplement with no diabetes. My dear, it seems, has finally found its pride of place at the Indian dining table.

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