You need to be very discerning when buying bulk honey, more so than when buying a jar from a retailer or local farm. A retailer worth his salt will have carried out “due diligence” and selected the best products for you, his customer, whereas if you are buying in bulk from a producer or importer, you are on your own.
If you manufacture food products that contain honey, or your catering outlets use honey in their dishes, you will likely want to buy in bulk and cut the price down. Bulk in terms of honey means minimum order quantities from several tons down to about 60lbs. Anything less and you will be close to retail pricing. Unit sizes range from 60lb or five-gallon containers, through to 650lb drums.
You are going to want to get a good deal, right? Please read on for a few tips:
Buying Tips for Bulk Honey
First of all, take a look at current market prices for honey. You can find the average price of honey very quickly on the Internet but this is not what you want. You need to do a comparison of prices for the types of honey you are looking at, not the industry average. Once you have an idea of pricing, you can decide what your budget will be and what honey types you will go for, bearing in mind the requirements for your finished product. You may decide to source some raw honey, or possibly an organic variety. Perhaps Fairtrade credentials are important to you and your target market. On the other hand, you may be looking at honey primarily as a sweetener.
Secondly, apply the normal “rules” for doing business in bulk honey as you would for buying anything else. If it looks suspect, it probably is. If you can only correspond with a supplier by email, run a mile.
Thirdly, honey is one of those products that really does take more labor to produce and involve more costs the higher up the quality scale you go. This means that warning bells should start ringing if you are offered honey at a lower price than the market, or if price negotiation seems to be that little bit too “easy”. This is a warning sign because a supplier will not usually be a pushover on price when he is selling a valuable, legitimate commodity that is in short supply – why would he be? The best quality honeys are not cheap; they come at a price that can be easily justified. You cannot buy 18-carat gold “on the cheap” and the same applies to the best of this liquid gold. Of course, you will want to make absolutely sure you that the honey you get is what you think you paid for, which brings us to our next section, on quality.
Bulk Honey Quality
A word about honey quality. There have been many stories recently about imported honey being adulterated with corn syrup or sugar and water. One problem with honey is that such adulteration cannot easily be detected by its appearance, consistency, aroma or flavor. You really need a lab test to find out for sure whether a honey sample corresponds to the internationally accepted profile for quality honey. Bulk buyers can and should obtain a lab test of a sample of honey. A so-called carbon isotope test can be obtained from a specialist company that is geared up to test honey and compare its profile to a standard profile for pure honey. You can get a test for honey purity for about 40 dollars, from companies such as Coastal Science Laboratories in Austin, Texas (phone/fax 512 288 5533). It is a necessary step to protect your business if you are using honey in your products.
Allergy to Honey
I also want to mention the subject of allergy. Some people react badly to honey so if you use honey in your products you ought to have some sort of warning about this. Make sure that any labeling includes a warning that complies with state and local regulations. The alternative could be very unpleasant and damaging, if say a person became seriously ill after consuming one of your products.
Do your research carefully on suppliers, and when buying in bulk don’t necessarily go for the cheapest. Just think about the effect that poor quality, or even worse contaminated honey could have on your business. If you can afford it, get a raw, organic honey. This will be considerably more expensive, but will give your finished product kudos and star quality. You can also use the honey’s credentials in your marketing campaigns. All of this should support a higher price point for your product.
Best of luck!