Collective marketing for beekeepers
Bees for Development believes that beekeeping can be a feasible means for people to move themselves out of poverty; that wax and honey production can be a lucrative, cash generating activity. However, for beekeeping to offer a significant boost to household incomes it must be done on sufficient scale to make a difference. This may be challenging for people who are used to working at subsistence level, with low levels of production and informal trade but it is increasingly understood that subsistence farming alone cannot lift people out of poverty.
In most countries there is high demand for honey that is frequently not met by local production and with increasing interest in healthy lifestyles this market is expanding. Consequently, if producers are able to satisfy local markets and then gain access to more distant urban markets all sections of the supply chain will be more satisfied and thousands of new producers will be able to participate. This will raise both individual incomes and contribute to the national economy.
This change is not about creating very large scale bee farms - it is already known that the scale at which people produce honey is very variable. The key to the growth of the industry is for many beekeepers to be involved, for each beekeeper to be motivated to increase their harvest and to change the way trade works so that bulked honey can be supplied directly from the producers to consumers, packing companies or wholesalers. In this way developing small and medium scale beekeeping at household level can supply a growing industry.
Of course, the conditions for beekeeping must be right but this is not the focus of this page. To transform and increase trade the following points need to be considered:
- Beekeepers need to recognise that there are different types of markets with different needs and access costs
- Distant markets offer the greatest growth potential.
- For small scale producers to access distant markets, consolidation or bulking must be organised
- Consolidation or bulking is best achieved by beekeepers working together and being organised
- Beekeepers must adopt a business approach and develop business skills
- Producers need to recognise that collective marketing carries a cost and is not free
- Collection and marketing costs must be covered by the sale of the products
- There must be a marketing plan, with clear steps of how to achieve it
- The plan should identify and then target suitable markets rather than rely on random or passing sales opportunities
The best way for beekeepers to be able to access these opportunities is to form a marketing group for consolidating honey. Consolidating, or bulking honey is the accumulation of honey from a number of producers into a large quantity with the intention of making a large-scale, single onward sale or processing and packing. Without being able to offer significant volumes of honey to a buyer, producers are vulnerable to taking whatever price they can get. Marketing honey as group enables beekeepers to offer a large volume of honey for sale, negotiate better terms and lower their marketing costs. This system also allows beekeepers to pack for retail sale themselves or to sell directly to existing packers. Access to a reliable market will encourage beekeepers to take the necessary steps to improve quality, for example using only appropriate and clean containers and to implement traceability systems, an essential component of international export standards.
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- Language English
- Author Bees for Development
- Publisher Bees for Development
- Published Date October 2016
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