Natural Honey in Short Supply, Not at Fairs - Experts Urge Consumers to Be Cautious
2017 October 14 ( Saturday ) 13:17:33
"With the beginning of the season of honey sales, the usual story of unsuccessful search for honey, a fake in 95% of the cases, by the consumers began. Unfortunately, people cannot learn a simple truth: natural honey should be sold at a price much higher than the average of 30 manat that is the ordinary price in the market," the head of the Union of Free Consumers of Azerbaijan (UFCA) Eyub Huseynov said.
On Tuesday, the regular 18th annual honey fair was opened in the shopping center Amay in Baku. "Beekeepers from all economic regions of Azerbaijan take part," Deputy Agriculture Minister Seyfaddin Talybov told reporters, noting that this year the number of exhibitors and the volume of exhibited products at the honey fair in Baku exceeds the figures of the previous year.
"This year, 332 beekeepers have exhibited their products at the fair, which exceeds the last year"s figure by 78. In all, 107.5 tons of liquid honey, as well as 5.5 tons of honeycomb honey and over 1.2 tons of other beekeeping products are exhibited at the fair. For comparison, last year only 75 tons of liquid honey was exposed to the fair. Despite the drought that has been observed in the country since May this year, the quantity and quality of honey exceeds last year"s figure," the Deputy Minister said. Prices at the fair increased from last year"s limited AZN 20 and range from AZN 25 to AZN 30.
Does this mean that the metropolitan residents will be able to taste real honey? The head of UFCA Huseynov strongly doubts this. "Natural honey can be bought at a price of 300 manat per kilogram, but even in this case, no one guarantees that it does not contain minor impurities and is a natural bee product - a gift of flowering fields and forests," he replied to Turan"s request. And this is despite the abundance of honey traded in the capital of Azerbaijan with the beginning of the honey sale season.
The agriculture expert Vahid Maharramov deprived us of the last hope: "It is almost impossible to buy this delicacy at city exhibitions, markets and in stores. In the best case, the naive buyer is tampered the product processed by bees from sugar syrup. In the worst - virtuoso dealers prepare a semblance of honey from molasses and sugar syrup, and without a hint of the content of fructose and glucose. It happens that some amount of natural honey is added to the sugar for odor and characteristic taste, but there is another sort of unnatural honey that cannot be determined with the help of chemical analysis - there is almost no sucrose in this product, and the content of glucose and fructose is the same as in natural honey. This forgery is called "honey sugar" - it is a sort of honey that can be bought in the markets, in stores and annual exhibitions organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan, which are a show played with one single goal - to make money on the sale of cheap goods," the source said.
They all - from farmers to organizers of the event - earn money on selling so-called honey, and whoever profits more by cheating credulous citizens is difficult to answer, Maharramov said. According to the expert, the extreme shortage of real honey is due to the fact that local apiaries do not give more than 200 tons of honey per year. "At the same time, imports account for 66.9 tons, and exports are at the level of 3.6 tons. In total, Azerbaijanis consume 2,666 tons of honey - 266 grams per person per year. For comparison, in Georgia and Turkey, the consumption is 1.5-1.7 kg of this delicacy per capita, i.e. six times more than in Azerbaijan," Maharramov estimated, suggesting that proceeding from this, domestic production of honey covers demand, at best, by 20%.
By the way about the cost price, fixed price of a kilogram of this delicacy established at the honey exhibitions confirms the reflections about the low quality of the products presented here. According to Maharramov, it would be unprofitable for farmers to sell natural honey at such rates. Moreover, it is impossible to fix the selling price for the beekeeper, in view of the fact that it is quite difficult to determine the cost price of these products (meaning a pure beekeeping product), because it depends on many factors, with an emphasis on the annual yield, market value and production costs in each individual case.
It should be noted that the Ministry of Agriculture not only collects beekeepers, but is called to control the quality and conformity of products to the proud name "honey". Unfortunately, the statements of experts on the massive falsification of exhibition honey give rise to questions specific to the control and licensing functions of this agency...
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture assures the people of the strict control of the quality of products exhibited at the honey fair in Baku. "This year, as in the past, we did a great job of analyzing the quality of honey. A total of 3,367 tests were performed in the Republican Veterinary Laboratory, and 509 test specimens did not meet the quality standards. As a result, 22.5 tons of honey was not allowed to the fair. Last year, about 23.5 tons of honey was not allowed to the fair," Talybov said.
The exhibition will last until November 5th.