The increase in exports and the immediate consequence on the domestic market.

The low productivity of honey in Brazil and the increase in demand from the foreign market are the main reasons for the increase in honey prices in the domestic market.

Article Published in the APACAME Magazine (São Paulo Association of Beekeepers Breeders of European Honey Bees) on May 166, 2022. Ipsis litteris.

Written by Daniel Augusto Cavalcante.
CEO BALDONI. | Doctor in Food Engineering UNICAMP. | Director of the Brazilian Bee Studies Association (ABELHA). | Councilor of the Superior Council of Agribusiness. | Associate of ABEMEL.

Beekeeping is a conservative activity and presents itself as one of the only activities of Brazilian agriculture that concentrates and allows the coexistence, in a harmonious and interactive way, of the three essential pillars of sustainability (Elkington, 2014):

  1. Economical, since it is capable of producing, distributing and offering bee products, establishing a fair competitive relationship in relation to the market;
  2. The social, in view of the use of family labor in the countryside, providing an environment that encourages the creation of legitimate and healthy working relationships, in addition to favoring personal development with the consequent reduction of rural exodus; and
  3. The environmental, as it helps considerably in reducing deforestation, fires, in addition to the role of bees as pollinators, generating the preservation of the local flora.

Despite the sustainable characteristics and the beekeeping movement being present in all Brazilian regions with the possibility of producing honey and other bee products during all months of the year, the activity is carried out in relatively small family apiaries and their participation in the property, often is seen as complementary to other crops, being the fourth or fifth economic importance of the producer.

The effect of this reduced professionalization of the beekeeping sector, even taking into account the full potential of Brazilian biodiversity and the sustainable benefits arising from the activity, is a poor production that has been bringing significant and irreparable disruptions to the domestic honey market in Brazil.

As shown in Figure 1, Brazil is in tenth place in terms of annual production.

According to the Agricultural Census, in 2017 we have 2.2 million beehives, of which almost half (1.045 million beehives) are located in Rio Grande do Sul.

Emphasizing the production of 41.6 tons of honey in 2017, as shown in Figure 2 and relating to the number of hives in the period, we conclude that Brazilian productivity is 19.30 kg of honey per hive/year. This data corroborates the low national production and the need for professionalization in the sector.

According to Cavalcante, 2021, in Argentina, this productivity index is 35kg per hive/year, in the USA it is 30kg, in Australia it is 105kg and in China it is 100kg. This means that, with a similar number of hives, in the order of 2 million, neighboring Brazil and Argentina have a marked disparity in annual honey production (Fig.1).

Figure 1. World honey production in 2020. – Source: FAO, 2020

Exports have been growing at a rate of 14,29% per year, from 24,201 tons in 2016 to 47,190 tons in 2021, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Definition (by arithmetic calculation) of the per capita consumption of honey in Brazil based on data on volumes exported, produced and the Brazilian population. – Source: The author.

On the other hand, honey production had an average growth of 6.74% per year, with a variation from 39.6 thousand tons in 2016 to 51.5 thousand tons in 2020. The production values for 2022 are not yet available.

When evaluating this relationship between Brazilian honey production in the face of the significant increase in exported volumes, it is imperative to understand that Brazil is suffering from a lack of honey in the domestic market.

By deepening the analysis demonstrated in Fig. 2, it is noticeable, according to the governmental data used, the loss in the amount of honey consumed per inhabitant, reaching the emblematic value of 27 grams for each of the 212.6 million inhabitants of Brazil.

It is interesting to note that this volume of 27 grams is not, in its entirety, intended for table consumption and sold in food or pharmaceutical retail.

It should be taken into account that honey is still used in the institutional channel, being widely applied as an ingredient in the food industry (dairy products, cereals and cookies) and in the cosmetics, animal feed and tobacco industry, in addition to being a raw material. well sought after by micro-entrepreneurs who use the product for the production of cakes, sauces, in formulations aimed at a specialized gastronomy, among other establishments such as restaurants, pizzerias, bars and canteens.

It is clear that government production data are at odds with the consumption of honey by the Brazilian population, especially when considering the search, in the last two years, for healthiness and an increase in personal immunity due to COVID 19.

Figure 3, on the other hand, didactically presents the losses for the domestic market with the increase in exports effectively greater than the increase in production as discussed above.

Figure 3 Variation in the cost and sale prices of a kilo of honey, according to data from SISCOMEX and Invoices from the company BALDONI. – Source: The author.

Honey acquisition prices from beekeepers increased by 142% in the period from January 2020 to December 2022, from R$ 6.60 to R$ 16.00 per kilo. This increase was leveraged due to the increase in demand for Brazilian honey by the foreign market, as shown in Table 1.

Table1. Main exports in terms of values and quantities of Brazilian honey. – Source: COMEX STAT, 2022

It is noteworthy to observe that the price paid for Brazilian honey presented an increase of 170% in the 2020/2021 biennium, not only due to the devaluation of the real against the dollar that had its quotation, according to the BCB, 2022, in the amount of R$4, 02 in Jan/20 against R$5.63 in January 2022, but also for the financial gain, in Brazilian currency, in the sale of the product to the international market.

Data from the MDIC, 2022, show an increase in the value of honey exports in dollars from US$1.95 to US$3.76, in the evaluated period. Thus, the objective information is that honey has leveraged from R$ 7.83 in January 2020 to R$ 21.16 in January 2022.

The main Brazilian customer, according to the MDIC, 2022, is the United States, which despite having reduced the volume purchased in 2021 when compared to 2020, the gain in revenue in this period is clear. We have an increase of over 43 million dollars.

It is also observed that the other importing countries of Brazilian honey received increasing volumes in the period presented in Table 1, highlighting Germany and Canada, which together brought in revenues of US$ 31.8 million dollars in 2021 with an increase of 1.7 thousand tons of honey, compared to 2020.

At this moment, an increase in exports of around 17,000 ton stands out. 2019 compared to 2021, basically representing what is estimated to be consumption in Brazil.

It should be noted that this behavior of price increases due to the imbalance between the supply of the product and the demand/demand presented is completely normal and always observed for products considered commodities.

The key issue of this work is that despite honey being a classic commodity, the product is not priced on the stock exchange, which causes serious problems with the correction of the course in the domestic market.

While products derived from petroleum, soy, corn, wheat and others have their prices adjusted the day after the interference of the foreign market, honey is treated as an industrialized product, where price adjustments to recompose the product's inflation are treated on a case-by-case basis. case and in the speed and interest of large retailers.

Thus, still under analysis in Fig.3, unlike the increase of 170% in sales prices to customers in the foreign market, the domestic market practiced average increases of 51% in the period evaluated, leading to losses in contribution margin of around 23%.

Notably and in this context it is transparent and certain that the transfer of this loss of margin will remain for the final consumer, since the low volumes that are available for the national market linked to the price war of the warehouses with the beekeepers in search of larger volumes exported, will increasingly affect prices in the Brazilian market, in addition to the possibility and opening offered for the emergence of fraud and smuggling of the product.

As Brazil will hardly go from exporting to importing honey, it is mandatory that actions to increase the productivity of Brazilian hives begin immediately with the objective of raising our production numbers, at least to levels that allow us to be the second world's largest producer of honey commodities.


Due to the low production of honey in Brazil and the increasingly accentuated demand by the national market, the issue of volume loss in the domestic market is clear and, therefore, the need for price increases, being substantial, for the immediate solution of this problem, the increase in productivity and consequent increase in the availability of honey in the country.

Bibliographic references

  • Baldoni Natural Products. Accounting and financial data from ERP Sankhiya, 2022.
  • Central Bank of Brazil (BCB). Quotations and Bulletins, 2022. Available at: Accessed on March 03, 2022
  • Cavalcante, DA The leap for Brazilian honey involves increasing the productivity of hives. Revista Globo Rural, 2021. Available at: -of-beehive-productivity.html. Accessed on 03 Apr 2022.
  • Elkington, J. et al. Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental, and Economic Impacts. United States: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), FAOSTAT; 2020. Available at: Accessed on: 03 March 2022.
  • Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics – IBGE. 2017 Agricultural Census. Available at: Accessed on: 23 Mar. 2022
  • Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) – COMEX STAT, 2022. Available at: Access on 23 Mar. 2022

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