Market prices among challenges facing Canadian beekeepers

Beekeepers are worried about market prices in the U.S.
Beekeepers are worried about market prices in the U.S. Dean Fosdick via AP

A cold spring has beekeepers worried.

“We’re a month later than what we were last year, [the bees] out flying around,” said executive director of the Canada Honey Council, Rod Scarlett. “In a lot of instances [the hives] are still covered by snow.”

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Just how many of the bees managed to survive the winter remains to be seen, but beekeepers have other worries — the honey market.

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“Prices [for product] have not really recovered, compared to what they were 30 months ago,” said Scarlett, speaking on the Alberta Morning News. “Beekeepers used to get equivalent dollars to what American honey producers were getting.”

According to Scarlett, beekeepers are currently getting at least $1 CAD less than what Americans are getting.

“I think it’s that American packers don’t want to pay for the product. They are making a conscious decision not to pay Canadian producers,” said Scarlett. “American producers supply less than half of what they consume, they just don’t want to pay [a higher price] for imports coming in.”

That means the United States is turning elsewhere for its product.

“[The U.S.] has an issue with adulterated honey from places like China … [U.S.] packers are still importing product for as cheap as possible. Often that product isn’t honey. It’s sugar syrup or something like that,” said Scarlett.
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It’s caught Canada in a tough spot.

“They are just very determined not to pay for honey product from Canada on an equivalent level,” said Scarlett. “We do equivalent work, we have equivalent ways of producing the honey and yet don’t get paid for it.”

Now producers are looking to other markets to sell.

“We’ve been working hard to try to open up some alternate markets like Japan, India and China. But it’s tough to get those markets and lose something as close as the U.S.,” said Scarlett.

It could be a tough sell, as Canada’s not the only market trying to get into those countries.

“It’s competitive. And it’s more expensive, it’s farther away,” said Scarlett. “It would be nice if we could sell everything into the States at a competitive price. But that’s not the case and it may not be the case ever again.”

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