Economy, Business And Markets

Low Domestic Demand Makes Export Imperative

Low Domestic Demand Makes Export ImperativeLow Domestic Demand Makes Export Imperative

Iran produces over 77,000 tons of honey annually from its 6,900,000 honeybee colonies, the head of National Association of Beekeepers and Honey Producers of Iran said.

“This level of production places Iran among the top five producers of honey in the world,” Abdolreza Bigonah added.

Professional honey production in Iran started some 50 years ago.

According to Bigonah, the Agriculture Ministry is moving toward mechanized production of honey by employing a wide-range of approaches, including genetic engineering of bees, Forsat-e Emrooz daily reported.

Local production of honey is enough to meet domestic demand, hence there is no import.

“Over the past four years, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf littoral states have been the main buyers of Iranian honey. However, regional conflicts and sanctions have cost us these markets. Honey exports are now down to 800 tons a year,” he added.

More than $1.2 million worth of honey were exported during the first two months of the current Iranian year (started March 20), ISNA reported.

Bahrain, the UAE, Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan are the main destinations.

Last year’s exports stood at about $6.5 million.

Germany and the US are the main importers of honey and China is the top exporter.

According to Bigonah, Ardabil is the third hub of honey production after East Azarbaijan and Isfahan, selling the most honey thanks to its tourist attractions such as Sareyn Hydrotherapy Complex, which hosts about 12,000 tourists annually. Ardabil is also the biggest exporter of honey wax.

About 74,000 people are active in beekeeping industry.

Bigonak believes recession is the main challenge facing honey producers, despite the government’s incentive of not imposing Value Added Tax on this industry.

“Pests and mites are the main headaches of honey producers. Beekeepers cannot control pest single-handedly … At times, up to one-third of a beekeeper’s hives might fall victim to pests,” he said.

Iranians are not great fans of honey. Honey does not have a significant presence in people’s food basket and consumption is low.  

“Media advertisement is nowhere to be seen in Iran to encourage people to consume honey,” Bigonah said.

This is while “thanks to the diversity of flora, climate and nature of its terrain, Iran can produce different types of honey.”