That is a good question and for start-up beekeepers sometimes an existential question. But regardless of whether you are keeping bees as a hobby or whether you want to do it full time, you need to ask yourself: Where can I sell my honey? Today, I want to talk to you about Beemaid Honey.
A case study carried out by scholars from the University of Brandon helped perform most of the research of this blog. The statistics that are mentioned are backed up by the Government of Manitoba as well as the Government of Alberta. There are three Beemaid branches in Canada; one in Tisdale, SK, one in Winnipeg, MB, and one in Spruce Grove, Alberta.
A cooperative between the Manitoba Beekeeper’s Association and the Saskatchewan Beekeepers’ Association was established in 1938 in Manitoba (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015). At that time, beekeepers struggled with an abundance of honey with a need to package, market and sell the honey to different markets. Every beekeeper in the provinces was responsible to package and market their own products, which made this process difficult and inefficient. Beemaid Honey Ltd. was established by beekeepers from Saskatchewan and Manitoba in 1954 and Alberta in 1962 to solve the problem of market inefficiencies (Beemaid, 2020). The company helped solve this challenge by purchasing, grading, processing, packing and marketing the honey throughout Canada. All members of Beemaid are still actual Beekeepers who sell their honey to the Cooperative.
Products & Packaging
Honey, Beemaid’s main product, does not spoil and has been a human food for over 5000 years (Brunning, 2014). According to Healthline, there are a few health benefits from consuming honey. Honey contains antioxidants to protect cells from damage and has antibacterial and antifungal properties that dispose of unwanted bacteria and fungus. In addition, honey can heal wounds and is used in hospitals to boost healing time and to disinfect (Goldman, 2018). Some people may use honey as a prevention and cure against the common cold (Edgar, 2017). However, Healthline acknowledges there are also risks involved in the consumption of honey such as constipation, slow breathing, sagging eyelids, lethargy (Goldman, 2018). Experts acknowledge that there are still obstacles in scientifically testing and verifying the health benefits of honey (Brunning, 2014). Despite this, honey is consumed all over the world. Beemaid manufactures its honey in a variety of packages from simple tube-style honey containers to elaborate bear-form honey containers. The company designs and manufactures its own plastic honey containers (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015). There are different bottle designs such as squeezable and non-squeezable bottles. You can also buy Beemaid’s honey from online distributors such as Amazon. Beemaid offers several products to its customers: Creamed honey, Liquid Honey, Specialty Honey, Premium Clover Honey, Raw Honey. Most of the honey is sold in liquid form and with three available types to choose from: Traditional Canada No 1 White, Golden, and Amber. Beemaid also developed a creamed honey with a long shelf-life that is flavored with lemon or cinnamon options. Additionally, other products with honey as an ingredient are being developed and some are already established such as honey flavored whiskey and water, solid honey as candy.
As a cooperative, Beemaid Honey purchases, grades, processes, packs and markets its members’ honey. The honey is harvested by beekeepers and shipped to Beemaid in 250-liter barrels that are being emptied and cleaned for reuse (MCHP, 2020). After the honey arrives at one of the three Beemaid warehouses, the honey is identified and sourced. Then, the honey is heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to destroy the yeast found in honey and extend the shelf life, a process called pasteurization. Further filtration removes impurities like debris, pollen and insect parts. Although, there is a lack of controlled studies comparing pasteurized and unpasteurized honey some people may argue that pasteurizing honey may remove or destroy honey’s natural properties and vitamins (Berry, 2019). Beemaid’s honey processing and packing operations are food safety certified by SQF and are subject to annual HACCP inspections that are monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015).
Canada trades approximately 3% of the world’s honey supply (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015). Most of the Canadian honey exports go to the United States and Japan. Beemaid also sells its honey to large distributors including Walmart, No frills and Costco. Since Manitoban beekeepers take in an excess of 6000 metric tons of honey, 80 % of the honey is exported internationally (Agriculture, 2018). Manitoba accounts for approximately 25% of Canadian honey exports and Manitoba is ranked third in Canada in honey production after Saskatchewan and Alberta (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015). Manitoba Beemaid accounts for about 30% of Manitoban Honey production. Beemaid takes in an average of 8 to 9 million lbs. of honey every year. Beemaid now exports their products to over 25 countries worldwide (Colley, 2018). The cooperative has realized an opportunity in the hospitality industry. The company has initiated conversations with restaurant owners to increase its bulk honey sales. Since there is a variety of different types of honey it is instrumental for the different industries to have a dialogue about the desired honey (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015). To further decrease risk and diversify their business, Beemaid has a Beekeeping supply unit that supports local beekeepers in supplying them with beekeeping supplies.
Difficulties could arise when the international price of honey would experience a drop, which in turn would cause a domino effect and lead to sinking honey prices for beekeepers who will try to find other markets for their honey or cut supply. Also honey itself is not an innovative product and growth is slow without more health and wellness research to support its health benefits claims (Berry, 2019). Since Beemaid sources all of its honey from Canada, there are competing countries such as Argentina, Mexico that have cheaper honey prices than Canada (Ashton, Richards, & Galatsanou, 2015).
Beemaid has a long history of honey sales in Canada and internationally. The company collaborates with beekeepers who are also members of this cooperative. Honey has few health benefits but some more research is required to confirm the health effects of honey consumption. Beemaid processes and markets the honey and ships it nationally and internationally. I have discussed how the honey is processed, and the opportunities and challenges faced by the company and industry. I am looking forward to hearing from you and we can discuss this subject in more detail.
Agriculture, M. (2018). Government of Manitoba . Retrieved from Beekeeping and Honey : https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/production/honey.html
Ashton, W., Richards, G., & Galatsanou, E. (2015). Bee Maid Honey- Strategies for Growth of Bulk Food Processing in Manitoba. Brandon: Brandon University.
Beemaid. (2020). Beemaid. Retrieved from Beemaid: https://www.beemaid.com/about-us/history/
Berry, J. (2019, April 01). Medical News Today. Retrieved from Medicalnewstoday: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324966
Brunning, A. (2014, August 21). compoundchem.com. Retrieved from Why Doesn’t Honey Spoil? – The Chemistry of Honey: https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/08/21/chemistryofhoney/
Colley, K. (2018, 03). Government of Alberta . Retrieved from https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Food+and+Ag+Processing/foodindy.nsf/Attached/32/$FILE/export_catalogue_web%2044%20Bee%20Maid%20Honey.pdf
Edgar, J. (2017, 11). WebMD. Retrieved from WebMD website : https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/medicinal-uses-of-honey#1
Goldman, R. (2018, December ). Healthline . Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/top-raw-honey-benefits
MCHP. (2020, January 01). Manitoba Cooperative Producers . Retrieved from Membership Information Sheet : https://metric-cdn.cdnedge.bluemix.net/beemaid.com/site/assets/files/1096/truckload_contract_membership_info.pdf
White, H. (2015). Safety Services Manitoba . Retrieved from Safety Services Manitoba : https://www.safetyservicesmanitoba.ca/manitoba-cooperative-honey-producers-ltd-bee-maid-honey-ltd/