The honey market is in great shape

Stuart Bailey Chairman, Rowse Honey Sir; The Grocer's Focus on Jams, Preserves & Spreads quotes a 2.5% growth figure for the UK honey market in 2007 based on TNS data ('Squeezable is a hit with public', The Grocer, 5 January, p44). This figure is considerably lower than Nielsen figures and our own sales figures. The latest 52-week Nielsen data up to 15 December shows the UK grocery honey market grew from £68.1m to £75.5m, a value increase of 10.9%. Sales of clear blended honey in glass jars fell by 7% (-£1.5m), partly due to increased sales of value honeys at reduced retail prices and also consumers switching to squeezable bottles, where clear blend sales increased by 44.9% (£4.1m). Set blended in glass increased by 3.2% and organic fell by 4.4%, with 40% of organic honey now being sold in squeezable bottles. The largest growth sector was speciality honeys, which increased by 23.2% to £26m. This growth was driven by Manuka honey where sales increased from £2.2m to £5.7m, now representing 22% of speciality honey sales. The introduction of more speciality honeys in squeezable format, including Greek, English beekeeper honey and fairtrade honeys, increased speciality squeezable sales by 14.8%. The honey market is therefore in very good health. It has been well reported in The Grocer that, due to drought in Australia and poor crops in Eastern Europe and Argentina in particular, raw honey costs increased steeply in the last quarter of 2007. This is now being reflected in necessary wholesale price increases. UK sales of honey have increased by 50% in the past five years. I am confident the demand for this versatile, pure natural food will continue to grow strongly.