16:55 09.08.2021

Ukrainian beekeepers may run out of honey by end of year, in warehouses by end of winter – opinion

5 min read

KYIV. Aug 9 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The growth in demand for honey in the external and internal markets, caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as an increase in the shortage of spring and early summer varieties of honey, can create a situation when beekeepers will run out of these products by the end of 2021, and in warehouses by the end of winter 2022, founder of the Znatny Med brand Valeriy Kureiko said during a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Monday.

According to him, this season the shortage of spring and early summer varieties of honey has grown by almost half compared to 2020, including honey from acacia by almost 40%, from linden by 50%, from sunflower from 30%, while it is expected an increase in the collection of buckwheat and rapeseed honey by 20% to 30%. Thus, in 2021, honey harvest in Ukraine may amount to 80,000 to 100,000 tonnes of honey per year, but this is not enough to meet internal and external demand caused by the growth in honey consumption as a means of strengthening immunity during coronavirus pandemic.

"The volume of honey exports from Ukraine in 2018 amounted to 49,400 tonnes worth $98 million; in 2019 some 55,700 tonnes for $101.8 million, and in 2020 some 80,800 tonnes worth $139.8 million, that is, the average price per ton has been decreasing all the time. For the first half of 2021, some 25,900 tonnes were exported (this is less than in the same period in 2020), but the amount of foreign exchange earnings amounted to $56.87 million, that is, honey was sold at a higher price than last year," Kureiko said.

At the same time, according to him, in 2020 the main buyers of Ukrainian honey were Poland (26% of total exports), Germany (19%), the Unite State (10%), Belgium (10%) and Lithuania (6%).

Kureiko said the import of honey to Ukraine in 2020 amounted to about 2,000 tonnes and does not have a significant impact on the honey market in Ukraine.

According to head of the Znatny Med online store Ruslana Plys mainly exotic varieties of honey, such as manuka from New Zealand, are imported into the country.

She also said that in 2021 honey rose in price by an average of UAH 50 to UAH 100 per kg due to difficult weather conditions over the past two years, as well as due to the lack of carry-over stocks of last year's harvest, which could have flattened prices at the beginning of summer. The rise in the price of honey was influenced by the rise in prices for bee packages, beekeeping equipment (hives, frames, suits, tools, etc.), medicines for the prevention and treatment of bee diseases.

"Honey is getting smaller, but it is more difficult for the beekeeper to give it. Thus, this spring, for the first time in many years, there was a real shortage of bee packages, despite the price increase to UAH 1,600 to UAH 1,800 per package, they were sold out, as they say, 'wheels.' Another example: before the bees were fed once a season, in preparation for wintering. Now it is necessary to feed twice, in the spring before the season and at the end of summer. This significantly increases the costs of the beekeeper," Plys said.

According to her, the cost of honey could not remain the same in the face of constant growth in prices for electricity, fuel, food and other items of expenses for beekeepers. This year, retail prices for honey have grown by an average of 20% to 30%, to UAH 130 to UAH 150 per liter for copper from sunflower, UAH 150 to UAH 180 per liter for honey from herbs, UAH 200 to UAH 300 per liter for linden and buckwheat, UAH 300 to UAH 400 per liter, for acacia honey. Beekeeping products will rise in price by 20% to 40%.

"It seems that the era of cheap honey has passed. It must be admitted that Ukrainian honey was underestimated both on the international market and on the domestic one," the expert said.

Plys said that in the future, the products of honey processing (pollen, bee bread, zabrus, propolis, pidmor, wax, etc.) will also increase in price, since the volume of collection of such products is always limited, and the collection process is quite laborious.

In turn, Kureiko noted the influence of the climate change factor on the beekeeping industry, since relatively warm, snowless winters with a frequent transition from minus to plus temperatures have an extremely negative effect on the wintering of bees. Abrupt weather changes make changes in the timing of the beginning and end of honey collection, it is often interrupted by sudden cold snaps or prolonged heat, dry winds.

According to the expert, 2021 due to the unpredictability of weather factors "blocked" all the previous ones for beekeepers: periods with rains were replaced by cold snaps and heat, strong winds, hail and other disasters.

He said that in 2021, the collection of honey from sunflower has significantly decreased, since in many regions of Ukraine, farmers have sown a fast-ripening hybrid of sunflower, blooming for only five to seven days, while the usual flowering period of sunflower is three to four weeks, which greatly reduced the time of honey harvest from him.

The Znatny Med brand belongs to the Medovy Bdzholiar (Honey Beekeeper) apiary (Yablunivka village, Kyiv region). The company produces different varieties of honey, both monofloral and forbs: May, acacia, linden, sunflower, buckwheat, meadow, forest, field. According to the data on the website of the Znatny Med brand, the company's production apiaries are located at several sites in Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Chernihiv regions.