Emerging Honey Market Struggles with Chinese Fakes, Low Investment

Myanmar’s honey is good enough to enter the international market, but there are myriad challenges in penetrating the market, industry insiders say.

When Myanmar faced sanctions, Myanmar only exported honey to neighbouring countries in the ASEAN market, but now it is trying to export honey to the EU.

However, to get a foothold in those markets there are many difficulties that must be overcome. Specifically, China exports a large amount of low-quality and adulterated honey claiming that it comes from Myanmar, said U Aung Khaing Soe, the secretary of the Myanmar Apiculture Association.

“On the international market, China has been accused of selling counterfeit honey, and blending other substances into it. Therefore, trust in Myanmar’s honey market has been tarnished,” he told Myanmar Business Today.

Every country prohibits the import of wholesale quantities of Chinese honey, but Chinese honey still keeps coming to Myanmar illegally, he added.

“We need to prevent this as soon as possible. The government should inspect and monitor honey supplies, and monitor Myanmar’s name on Chinese honey. The Myanmar Apiculture Association should also be proactive to help Myanmar’s market,” U Phyo Aung, chairman of the association, told Myanmar Business Today.

“For the last three years, honey from China has been imported into the country, so the authorities have warned consumers. That is our biggest problem in finding international honey markets. Also, in Myanmar, there is a lack of investment and technology, which is another barrier.”

Exports of Myanmar honey are increasing, however. It is still not a profitable national export on a large scale.

For farmers, getting a loan to start an apiculture business is still in the discussion stage right now. They face the problem of acquiring farmland because of rising land prices.

“The government does not provide farmland in Myanmar for small honey businesses. Some locals produce it on a small scale. The price of farmland is increasing, so we cannot make large honey operations,” U Phyo Aung said.

In Myanmar, honey is produced in several regions and states, but Sagaing region produces the most of it. Myanmar exports honey to Thailand, Japan and the US, and the market potential is increasing.

“To produce quality honey, the beehives are placed on plum trees. This honey is superior because the bees feed on plum flowers. If we can sell purified honey, we have long term potential.” said U Aung Khaing Soe.

Myanmar annually exports 4,500 tonnes of honey. Honey business leaders are hoping for an increase in exports by 20 percent by next year. For one hive, investors can get K60,000 to K100,000 per year.

For the export wholesale market, one tonne of honey can go for as much as $2,000. The return on investments is attractive, so the association is aiming to expand honey businesses around Myanmar.

Source: Myanmar Business Today

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