Wednesday, 19 January, 2022

What the Food Law will change on your honeypot

Liquid, creamy, golden, smooth, aromatic… On toast or in a hot drink, honey has found its place on the tables of a good number of French people. We consume an average of 600 grams per capita per year. But do we really know where it came from? A small article slipped into the Food Law which was adopted definitively on Tuesday could well shake things up.

>> To read also: Food Law: what could change (or not) for you

Because this article specifies that “for honey composed of a mixture of honey from more than one Member State of the European Union or from a third country, all the countries of origin of the harvest are indicated on the ‘label.” Clearly, the list of countries should be clearly visible, whereas until then, the regulations simply allowed to mention that it was a mixture of honeys “originating in the EC,” not originating in the EC “or” originating in and not originating in the EC “…

35,000 tonnes of imported honey

This change? “A non-event”, estimates Vincent Michaud, CEO of Famille Michaud Apiculteurs, a predominant player with a turnover of 120 million euros. And yet the French Honey Union – of which the Michaud Apiculteurs family is part and of which Vincent Michaud is a vice-president – nonetheless made a point of speaking to the press barely two days after the vote of the National Assembly. to “reassure consumers” about the quality of the honeys it distributes. It must be said that the 13 companies that make up this union claim to represent more than 50% of honeys sold in France and nearly 80% of French honeys sold in supermarkets and medium-sized stores. Inform consumers, yes, but “the quality of honey is not directly linked to its geographical origin,” insists the union.

“Honey production in France was less than 20,000 tonnes in 2017 and French consumption is around 40,000 tonnes,” recalls David Besacier, the president of the union. “We are therefore obliged to import honey. Because of this lack of production and for certain appellations such as orange honey for example.” According to FranceAgriMer, more than 35,000 tonnes of honey are imported into France and in 2017, 51% of it came from Europe (including 17% from Spain and 8% from Germany) but also from Ukraine at 17%, China at 12% and Argentina at 7%.

To justify the quality of the honey it markets, the union highlights the numerous analyzes and checks carried out: “organoleptic analyzes on taste, texture, pollen analyzes to verify the geographical origin and analyzes to detect s ‘there is a presence of antibiotics, pesticides, heavy metals, etc … “explains David Besacier before specifying that” the analysis budget of each company is very high and increases from year to year “to meet the requirements of consumers. “The cost of analyzing my business amounts to 1.944 million euros” explains Vincent Michaud. Another point that the union has at heart: the fight against fraudulent practices of adulteration of honey, such as the addition of exogenous sugar. The union also calls for “regulations on quality controls to be strengthened, by imposing the same level of control on all honey, regardless of the distribution channel”.

Assembly honeys

However, with this labeling change provided for by the Food Law, the French should have much more complete information on the origin of blended honeys. “These blended honeys are not fake honey” automatically defuses the French honey union, adding that this blend aims “to obtain the best result in terms of taste and texture”. Vincent Michaud also praises the good “quality-price ratio” of these blended honeys – which represent about half of his products, he estimates – which allow “to fetch the honeys produced under excellent conditions” breeding or environmental. The new labeling should make it possible to know the origins of the blended honeys and therefore the number of different geographical origins.

A change that could lead to an increase in the cost price, according to Vincent Michaud, if the label must constantly change depending on the composition of the honey. What is ultimately reflected in consumer prices? The French honey union calls in any case for a “European harmonization” of this new labeling rule so that it “applies to all operators of the single market, who also market their honeys on the French market.” With better labeling of the origin of honey, this is yet another step in meeting the strong expectations of the French to want to be better informed about the food they consume …

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