Munich - Due to the mild winter, the honey year now nearing its end was at least not a bad one. In honey-loving Germany the sweet treat produced by bees is urgently needed, as two-thirds of all Germans eat honey regularly. With a per-capita consumption of 1 kg per year, Germany is one of the world's biggest honey consumers. Honey buyers place great value on regionally produced honey. TÜV SÜD's experts explain what the term involves.
Well over two-thirds of consumers seek to buy honey from Europe, Germany, or directly from their home region. Yet even though many consumers would prefer to buy locally produced honey, the honeybee colonies in Germany can cover only one-fifth of the high demand. 80 per cent of the honey sold in Germany comes from our European neighbours or from other countries like South or North America.
"The country of origin, such as Germany, must be declared on the label", explains TÜV SÜD food expert Dr Andreas Daxenberger. According to the German Honey Regulations, when honey comes from various sources the label need only state whether it is of EU or non-EU origin. "Many labels read 'Blend of EC honeys', informing consumers that the honey was harvested in several EC countries", explains Daxenberger. Honey lovers who value regional produce should therefore carefully read the label giving information about the honey's origin, and either buy honey with a quality or regional label or get their honey directly from a beekeeper.
A honeybee colony produces around 20 – 30 kg of honey per season. But this is far from all. Bees also provide other highly valuable services in their direct environment, acting as pollinators for many flowering plants and thus contributing significantly to local agricultural production and the diversity of regional species.
Factors decreasing the quality of honey include heating or over-long storage periods. Honey that has crystallised can be restored to tasty flowing goodness by careful heating (max 30°C). If honey is stored for too long or at temperatures that are too high, the content of hydroxmethylfurfural (HMF) rises.
Honey has a use-by date of two years, even though its shelf life is almost unlimited due to its high sugar content. The longer honey is stored, the more of its sugars will turn into solid crystals. Cool, dark and dry storage is absolutely recommended.