Honey Prices: Still rising in 2009

The surge in honey prices, that began in mid 2008, continues. Most prices that I track rose from lofty October levels. Dutch Gold wildflower fell, but only by 2.3% and that was after a 38.9% increase in October. I made a point of sampling prices in January, to compare them with the USDA’s “all honey” price – a year end price that they haven’t published yet. I’ve also started tracking the price of table sugar, maple syrup, and malt extract. If you make mead, you’ll be interested in the price of honey, of course, but this might be interesting to our homebrewing friends and should provide some context as 2009 unfolds. I’ve included honey prices from March 2008, when prices were stable, October 2008, and current prices in the table below.

1.65
Source and Type Price March 08 ($/lb) Price October 08 ($/lb) Recent Price Change From October Change From March
Costco Clover 1.47 1.57 1.83 +16.6% +24.5%
Sam’s Club Clover 1.53 1.86 2.05 +10.2% +34.0%
Miller’s Honey Clover 1.55 1.73 +4.8% +11.6%
Miller’s Honey Wildflower 1.15 1.35 1.43 +5.9% +24.3%
Miller’s Honey Organic n/a n/a 1.83 n/a n/a
Dutch Gold Clover 1.30 1.71 1.80 +5.3% +38.5%
Dutch Gold Wildflower 1.26 1.75 1.71 -2.3% +35.7%
Dutch Gold Organic n/a n/a 1.80 n/a n/a


Miller’s wildflower stands out

The packers offer slightly better prices on clover honey than Costco, but to get those prices you have to buy in 60 lb buckets and pay shipping. Costco and Sam’s Club let you buy in smaller 6 lb or 5 lb jugs and avoid shipping charges by visiting their retail locations. The standout bargain is still Miller’s wildflower – a high quality honey at a great price. Miller’s and Dutch Gold sell organic honey – a wildflower honey that meets USDA requirements for an organic label, and I’ve begun tracking those prices.

Maple Syrup

I started tracking the price of maple syrup at Costco ($16.99/quart) and Sam’s Club ($19.88/quart). It’s a sugar syrup, like honey, but is sold by volume rather than by weight. Typical conversions for maple syrup are: 1 Gallon (US) = 11.2 lb. 1 cup = 240 ml = 319 g of 67 Brix syrup with a density of 1.33 g/ml. That works out to $6.07/lb and $7.10/lb at Costco and Sam’s.

Malt extract and table sugar?

For our homebrewing friends, and to provide some context, I’ve started tracking the price of bulk malt extract at four suppliers that I’m familiar with. The Cellar, Mountain Homebrew, More Beer, and The Grape and Granary all offer malt extract in bulk. Prices range from $2.01/lb to $2.99/lb for liquid extract and $2.52/lb to $4.66/lb for dry extract.

Update 1/25/2010 – Honey prices level off

Honey prices were flat for the rest of 2009. There wasn’t much movement in malt extract either.



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11 thoughts on “Honey Prices: Still rising in 2009

  1. Aaron

    Not sure why you’re tracking this information, although I certainly can’t think of any reason NOT to.

    Just wanted to point out that malt extract vs honey could be deceptive to someone who doesn’t homebrew, as your average 5 gallons of beer will use 6-7 pounds of extract, while your average 5 gallons of mead will use 12-15, so even those honey may be cheaper in bulk than malt extract, a batch of beer prices pretty much the same as a batch of mead.

    I just wish I could get maple syrup cheap!

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hi Aaron,

    Yeah, honey isn’t usually a substitute for malt extract and mead isn’t directly comparable to beer. What I’m trying to do is provide context – we know that honey has gone up a lot. Is that because sweeteners, in general, have gone up? Something particular to honey? I don’t know because I wasn’t tracking extract (or table sugar or maple syrup), but now I think I’ll be better able to understand price movements going forward.

    I’ll second the call for cheap maple syrup!

    Erroll

  3. Daniel Ball

    The price of honey went quite high last year due to the shortage of supply from Argentina and Brazil. China, which produces half the export honey in the world remains a renegade when it comes to honey production due to quality issues. Europe doesn’t like Chinese honey due to the quality issues and the USA has an extremely high “anti-dumping” tariff on Chinese honey. Thus, the shortage.
    This situation seems to continue into 2009.

  4. Erroll Post author

    Thanks Ted,

    I’ve just bookmarked the site. At $3.63/lb for bulk dry extract, the look to be right in the middle of the $2.52/lb to $4.66/lb range from my first survey. Have you done business with them? If so, were you satisfied? Why or why not?

    Erroll

  5. hoangchinh

    hi,i have a lot of pure ,nature honey in vietnam for export.
    If in small value,we can exchange by ebay ,and for a large you can contact with me at :hoangthechinh@hotmail.com or telephone number 84.93 428 9594.
    thank for reading.

  6. Seamus

    What is the current cost of wild flower honey and orange blossom honey per pound in 55 gallon drums if I am buying a large quantity such as 10-20 metric tonnes?

  7. Susie

    Hi all- this is an interesting discussion. But what about sourcing honey locally? I realize this is a discussion about finding the lowest price for a commodity, but focusing exclusively on price fails to take into consideration the value of keeping the money in the area, supporting local producers, etc. That stuff is difficult to quantify, but it does have enormous value.

    And, surprisingly, the prices are actually not as different as you would think. I recently bought 3lbs of fantastic wildflower honey from a local farm for about $2.80/lb, but of course that was retail, and i’m sure one could work out a better price for a higher quantity. Yes, that is more per pound than the stuff from Tanzania or whatever but after you figure in shipping, etc., it is actually worth considering.

    But in addition to a decent price, you get to keep the money in the community (or the region), giving the business to the guy on the honey farm so he can afford more of YOUR hooch. An obvious point, i know, but it was hard to resist.

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hi Susie,

    A lot of people like to buy local for all sorts of reasons. It might bring them closer to someone in their community. It might make them feel like their food or drink has a sense of place. If those good feelings are worth the higher cost to you, then it makes sense for you to buy local.

    But the economic argument is unconvincing. If you buy, or are forced to buy, at above-market prices, then you either have to buy less of that item or spend more money doing it (leaving less for other things you would have bought). Either way, you are worse off economically. If this is happening to everyone in your community, then your entire community will suffer a drop in living standards. So looking for a good value makes sense for you and your community.

    Erroll

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