From the 29th of November 2024, all honey and other apiculture products intended for human consumption that are exported to the European Union must be dispatched from or prepared in listed establishments published by APHA. This change will impact our work at E&J, bringing new regulations to maintain transparency within the honey market.  

In this article, our National Technical Lead for Exports, Georgios Kakarantzas explains how adulterated honey affects the European honey market and reflects on the changes being made to export regulations to combat this practice.


Honey Exports to EU: Boosting transparency

Recent market research indicates that about 40% of the honey in the EU market is sourced from outside the European Union.

In response to complaints from producers and consumer associations regarding suspected fraud in the honey sector, the EU initiated a coordinated action to assess the situation.

By early 2023, findings revealed that 46% of honey on the European market is suspected of being adulterated. This conclusion was based on sampling 320 consignments across 16 Member States, Norway, and Switzerland between November 2021 and February 2022.

The suspicion rate observed in the present study significantly exceeded that of an earlier EU-wide coordinated control plan conducted from 2015 to 2017, where only 14% of the analysed samples failed to meet the established benchmark criteria for assessing honey authenticity. However, this disparity may be attributed to utilising a distinct set of methods in the current study, which boasts enhanced detection capabilities.

It’s important to highlight that while the highest absolute number of suspicious consignments came from China (66 out of 89, 74%), honey from Turkey had the highest relative proportion of suspicious samples, with 14 out of 15 (93%). Interestingly, honey imported from the United Kingdom exhibited an even higher suspicion rate, with all 10 samples (100%) raising concerns. However, traceability information indicates that this might be due to honey originating from elsewhere but being processed in the United Kingdom before re-exporting to the EU.


Fraudulent Practices Identified

The investigation confirmed that a significant portion of honey imported from non-EU countries and sold in the EU market is suspected of not complying with the EU Honey Directive and often goes undetected.

The primary fraud involves adding syrups (mainly from rice, wheat, or sugar beet) and mislabelling the true origin of the honey.

In 2021, the average unit value for imported honey in the EU was €2.32/kg (excluding honey from New Zealand), while rice-based sugar syrups cost around €0.40-€0.60/kg, depending on their purity. This price disparity, combined with the difficulty in detecting honey adulteration with syrups, creates attractive fraud opportunities for unscrupulous operators.

It’s important to emphasise that the report indicates no concerns regarding consumer health. The issues identified are related to false labelling, non-compliance with EU regulations, and pricing discrepancies.


EU’s Response

To combat these practices, the EU has reinforced controls on imported honey. Identifying individual honey suppliers will assist EU Member States in conducting border inspections. A list of authorised establishments in exporting countries is already mandatory for most other animal-origin products.

Competent authorities in countries exporting honey and apiculture products to the EU must submit their initial list of establishments (including name, address, and activities) to the European Commission before the new regulation takes effect on 29 November 2024.

After this date, only establishments listed on the Commission’s Establishment Lists webpage will be permitted to export honey to the EU.

This list must be regularly updated, with the competent authority in each exporting country responsible for maintaining its accuracy.


Action required of GB honey exporters by 30th June 2024

Due to the developments effective from 29 November 2024, honey and other apiculture products intended for human consumption that are exported to the European Union (EU) or transported from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI) via the red lane must be dispatched from or prepared in listed establishments published by APHA.

To compile a list of these establishments:

  • Establishments that obtain, prepare, or dispatch honey and other apiculture products for export to the EU or for movement to Northern Ireland via the red lane must provide their address, contact details, and registration number (if available) to This information must be submitted by 30 June 2024.
  • Local authorities are requested to send details of all honey and apiculture product establishments currently registered with them to or This information must be provided by 30 June 2024.


Maintaining transparency and compliance is crucial for preserving trust in the honey market. Collaboration among all stakeholders is vital for upholding these standards.


  • EU JRC Technical report
  • APHA


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Georgios Kakarantzas

Georgios is our National Technical Lead for Exports, overseeing national standards and legislative changes for export certification. He has worked at E&J for over 20 years, starting as an OV in 2003, before moving to specialise in exports.