'You get what you pay for': Beekeepers encourage consumers to buy local honey

Local beekeepers urge consumers to buy Canadian-made honey because it must pass stricter food regulations than most imported honey.

'Our standards are very, very high'

Beekeepers say consumers who opt to buy inexpensive honey are compromising on the quality. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Some beekeepers say if consumers want to buy pure honey, they need to shop locally and look for Canadian-made products, even if it means paying a bit more.

This comes after a report — released by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency — that found over 20 per cent of 240 samples of imported 'pure honey' were adulterated with cheaper sugars.

The report did not come as a surprise to local beekeepers, who say many consumers who opt to buy inexpensive food compromise on quality and authenticity.

Harold Wagner said you can't tell apart the taste of pure honey and honey made with cheaper sugars. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"If you see honey that's unusually cheap, you'd better read the label very carefully and make sure you're not buying a product that could be adulterated," said Tom Congdon, a third-generation beekeeper and owner of Sun Parlor Honey in Cottam, Ont.

Beekeepers, like Matt Wagner, say they feel cheated by companies selling fake honey because keepers work hard to produce the honey they sell.

Matt Wagner says he feels cheated about companies selling partially fake honey passed off as 'pure honey.' (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"I think it reduces the credibility of all beekeepers around because it raises a bit of suspicion and rightfully so," said Wagner.

His father, Harold Wagner, who's also a beekeeper and owner of Wagner Orchards and Estate Winery in Maidstone, Ont., said, "Why would you buy a product from countries that are suspicious in their food safety law? We have the [Canadian Food Inspection Agency]. They watch pretty close. Our standards are very, very high." 

Rough for Canadian beekeepers

"It's been a rough few years for a lot of Canadian beekeepers," said Congdon, adding that many beekeepers have phased themselves out of the business because they're tired of competing with companies selling cheaper honey.

Congdon also said some retailers are now opening up to selling locally made products, but added there are some of discount grocery stores "that just want the lowest price possible."

They all hope the report brings awareness to what is happening in their industry and ultimately encourages more people to spend the extra few bucks for the Canadian-made product.


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