CHOICE membership

The purity of Australian honey



You neglect the imprecision of our labelling standards, and Benford’s BF398 wine.

It is perception more than reality some times, and you can be assured the new Chinese owners will get it right for their export market whether it is 100% Aussie honey or Packed in Australia from Local and Imported Ingredients.


Counterfeiting (or using others name to sell) is rife in some areas, but I don’t anticipate Capilano making counterfeit products for the Chinese market…as it is difficult to counterfeit ones own product.

One of our friends is a daigou and sends Australian products to family and friends in China (very small scale). She has indicated in the past that she is very careful to only purchase Australian products which clearly state that it is produced from Australian ingredients (e.g. from Australian farms), as anything less won’t be accepted in China (by family/friends). I plan to ask her next time I see her about tge new labels where it may be ‘more than 95% Australian’ type labelling (for example, with only minute quantites of foreign vitamins or preservatives) to see if this poses challenges to brand Australia. I suspect not if the labelling makes it clear the main ingredient is Australian grown.

I expect Capilano will protect in brand Australia and product as this is where product differentiation lies and premiums can be charged. If it gets caught put once, it will lose its Chinese market opportunity. Tgis is something even the Chinese won’t risk as it would significantly devalue the companies value…and if you know the Chinese, they hate a raw deal or to lose money.


The drive to sell Australian product overseas has indeed increased imports into Australia. Australian baby formula is one where while it may not have increased foreign supply here, has so impacted the market that not enough Australian product can always be obtained here. Fish, prawns and a multitude of other seafood is a case where to supply enough for our own markets the imports have skyrocketed while our Australian product is sold overseas in much greater quantity than is made available here. Australian cotton, Australian wool are among others where foreign purchases leave a lot less than the Australian markets need/desire.

While I do think your optimistic view is the preferred outcome my pessimism tells me the result will be worse than we imagine.


This isn’t a typical year, so the honey crop in much of SE Australia will be very small. Honey cant be taken from hives when there is so little of it that the bees need it all to stay alive. The reduction in Australian output will mean imports will increase. Our supplier (we have one of his hives here) ran out of honey a couple of months ago, and the prospects of harvesting any in the near future are close to zero. Beekeepers across a large area are struggling to find suitable blossoms for the bees, and the pollen in many flowering trees in these dry times doesn’t result in much honey being produced.


Yes drought, government restrictions (such as restricting access to state lands/national parks etc) and the tyranny of distance to find (seasonal) blooms or rainfall areas is problematic (there are many parts of Australia which has received good rainfall or average/above average rainfall in the past months/year)…but can be overcome. There is a price to pay and is possibly currently uneconomic to do so).

These are short term problems which will be overcome over time.

There may be pressure to increase imported honey in the short term until industry supply catches up. This could involve chasing honey in new higher cost areas or in more remote locations. The higher honey price the Chinese are willing to pay should drive this change.

What may happen is the price for honey in Australia increases as the average kilo cost increases through chasing higher cost honey.


With increasing Climate change impacts the short term impacts are becoming long term impacts.

If it is uneconomic to increase or access the product the more easily obtained product will leave the Country and we will import, inferior in some cases, product to fill the gap. This change to premium pricing will then increase the drive to import cheaper foreign product and so even with the premium price buffering the trade deficit, we will increase it even further with the imports. This is happening now in so many areas and has obliterated many Australian businesses. Much of our export trade is primary production eg Coal, Gas, Iron ore, Wheat and other grains. Much of our imports are in areas like tech, finished/value added goods (whether food or otherwise) and the pricing and amount always leaves us in a deficit position.


It will be interesting to see what eventuates. I personally think that it will be different to what the doomsayers indicate, possibly with some areas of higher and some with lower, and rest with no changes to rainfall. There could also be changes to annual variability…maybe some variability higher with some lower.

Only time will tell.


That is what the climate scientists have been predicting, but with a general averaging up in most every metric from temperature to variability to the peaks and valleys of extremes. As with most things once a certain tipping point is hit it could go pear shaped very quickly. Risk management is being ignored by a large segment of the global population, especially those in governments catering to their donors.


Sometimes you need to adapt. I’d rather use golden syrup than imported honey. Might consider product from the could have been 7th state as a reliable option.


Very true.

Capilano is also one hundred of honey suppliers available to the consumer. These range from commercial suppliers like Capilano to local small scale apiarists which fill niche markets with seasonal and/or plant specific honeys.

One has choice in relation to what producer one buys from as well.


The claims made about “fake”/adulterated honey appear to have some merit.
It is unfortunate that the plea for Choice to do independent testing on honey went unheeded.
Hey! Choice, now is the time to get that testing underway.


The latest episode in this sordid saga.

We will be sticking with Beechworth Honey.


This article and its sister from Fairfax throw up quite a few issues.

  • They say that the NMR testing method can determine the origin of honey and that the fake component came from China. So far there is no detail of how adulteration takes place or what with. There is no smoking gun to say exactly who did it or where. I suspect industry experts have some ideas about this but for whatever reason are not speaking so far. Watch this space.

  • Not mentioned is the conundrum of growing world honey production without matching growth in the number of hives and despite losses from environmental pollution and decline in bees. Guess where the greatest growth is? China, despite their un-enviable record of air pollution.

  • We have lagging standards, that allow Capilano to say their honey passes. A very similar scandal is taking place in Europe and big bucks (well Euros) are involved. We can expect much more on standards too.

  • There is no consensus on whether NMR can detect fake honey or place of origin but Capilano seem to be in the minority here saying no. The article hints Capilano have been fooled too, this resembles the fake cooking herbs scandal in that respect, the problem seems to be further up the supply line.

  • Regardless of whether NMR can distinguish one from another identification depends on comparison to reference samples. How do you know your reference sample is actually what it purports to be? Until the database is independently verified with sample provenance made clear there will be protests.

How long will it be before there are representations from China saying that it is all down to Australia’s Sinophobia and their honey is a pure as the driven snow? Since the EU has the same problem they might hold back.


It appears that it could be regurgitation of past news (maybe the ABC is a active Community Forum viewer as some of their ‘news’ stories seem to follow after new posts on this forum),

For balance, Capilano responded to such claims back in 2016, then the allegations of fake honey first arose:

This is how Fairfax is reporting the alleged ‘fake’ honey:

It would be interesting if someone totally independent of the Australian honey industry once and for all, reviewed these claims and provided results of an independent investigation. This has been raised in the Fairfax article and suggests that the ACCC should investigate using its misleading advertising powers.

Unfortunately to date, those within the industry with potentially grudges to grind appear to be circulating allegations every few years. These grudges seem to result from allowing the importation of honey and more recently the sale of Capilano to foreign interests…


I agree that the situation is far from clear, particularly regarding the role of Capilano. The fact that the EU is going through similar turmoil which is not directly related to how Capilano or their critics act here suggests there is a wider problem.


On TV just now, the reporter referred to “honey laundering”. :grinning:

Seriously, I see a marketing opportunity: bee-free honey! I can see it now:
No bees were even slightly inconvenienced in the production of this - errr - “honey”.


Strictly speaking is the only product that should be called “pure Australian honey” that produced by Australian native bees from predominantly native flora?

Every thing else would then be more correctly defined as European bee honey produced in Australia from exotic (that’s not native) and select native plants. Add pure if you choose? Edit the mix of from exotic - sounds expensive and exclusive - and your choice of native plants eg Australian Manuka = leptospermum scoparium.
Note that correctly Manuka is the local NZ name for the lepto…sc… It’s the same plant.

Shame if anyone mixes any imported foreign substances in either great Aussie product!


Why only ‘predominantly’? how long does something have to be in this country before it is of this country? 40k years is a blink of the eye in the context of the age of the universe …


You are welcome to create your own version and brand. Native bees and European bees compete over the same plants, although some native plants fit only native bees, and other imported flowering plants are toxic to native bees.
Australian native bee honey has it’s own identity and brings a substantial premium. Up to ten times that of European bee honey. It may be important to see this differentiation in the marketplace.


The feds are now on the case - maybe.