Honey consumption per person in the US has nearly doubled in the last 25 years and continues to make a beeline north. According to the National Honey Board, we’re currently consuming an average of nearly one pound (0.9 pounds) of honey per person compared to just 0.5 pounds in 1990.
We add honey to tea and cocktails, we cook with it, and we even use it to treat burns and beautify our skin. We have Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, honey mustard sauces and more. So, it should come as no surprise that honey was named Flavor of the Year for 2015.
One of the best parts about honey is that the taste is greatly impacted by geographic location and climate. As interest in where our food comes from continues to grow, honey is of obvious interest to consumers. In fact, many stores and farmers markets are starting to have honey tastings for different types of honey from different regions.
Furthermore, manufacturers of honey have been successful in communicating to consumers that honey is a pure, natural sweetener with many health benefits. This appeals to consumers looking for authentic foods, clean and additive-free foods, or with special diets or allergies. But not all honey is created equal.
A search of the Label Insight product data engine revealed 880 honey products available at grocery stores. However, 98 of these fall into the category of Agave nectar. Technically not honey, Agave nectar is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of Agave plants which are large plants similar to a cactus.
That still left us with 782 remaining options for actual honey. Honey is made of primarily fructose (40 percent) and glucose (30 percent) but contains other more complex sugars. This means your body uses more energy to break all the sugar down to use as fuel. Using more energy to break down honey means you accumulate fewer calories from it. Honey also includes minerals, vitamins and amino acids which can all benefit our bodies. However, the more processed the honey is, the less beneficial it will be.
When searching we found 90 of the 782 honey products include a “raw” claim. In addition, 82 of the products include an “organic” or “organic certified” claim and 41 include “all natural” claims. 8 were even fair trade certified. All in all, a total of 25 percent of available honey products included at least one of the above claims: organic, all-natural, raw, or fair trade certified.
For brands, the question is: what attributes matter most to your consumers? By layering customer insights with granular product data, brands can have a more whole picture of what consumers care about. They can use that to optimize the information they share both on packaging and elsewhere to bring what’s most important to consumers to the forefront. .