Honey producers in sticky situation

A LOW leatherwood honey harvest by some major producers in Tasmania could see a shortage of the premium product by the end of this year, and a rise in price for the consumer.

But some smaller honey producers are already seeing higher demand for their product due to an international and domestic honey shortage.

Tasmanian Bee Keepers Association president Lindsay Bourke said the Tasmanian leatherwood honey harvest began in January and ended in February, but some producers started much later in January and lost half their crops. 

He said mainland honey producers were also experiencing low harvests because of drought.

``Four of the major beekeepers produce 80 per cent of the honey in Tasmania but one is already sending out to the other three because they know they won't have enough to last the season,'' Mr Bourke said.

``The last four seasons have been below average and we were hoping that this season would break the drought.

``The mainland is worse than us, normally averaging 25,000 tonnes of honey a year, but this year they will be lucky to make between 11,000 and 14,000 tonnes . . . the shortage is already dramatically lifting the price of honey.''

North-West Coast honey producers Blue Hills Honey, at Mawbanna, had a mixed honey harvest; their Manuka honey harvest failed, their white honey was down 50 per cent, but their leatherwood honey harvest was better than last year.

Owner Nicola Charles said they had experienced a high level of demand for their products, with many overseas and domestic inquiries, but would not be taking new customers for their white honey.

``I've been managing for the last 12 years and we have never seen this amount of inquiries, from Germany, Malaysia, China, Vietnam and Taiwan. We have waiting lists to buy honey, which is unprecedented,'' Mrs Charles said. 

``We traditionally have exported about 70 per cent of our honey, and the rest is domestic, but the domestic inquiries have gone mad as well.''

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