Georgian Honey has been admitted to EU market after EU completed all formal procedures and included Georgia in the list of third countries, from where honey imports are admitted to EU space.
Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia has carried out important measures for developing beekeeping field and stimulating exports of Georgian honey to EU market, Minister of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili said.
According to EU requirements, we have prepared legislative amendments for harmonizing with EU legislation. Namely, we have approved a plan for monitoring veterinary medications, other pollutants and wastes. Starting July 1, 2015 Technical Regulations on Honey were enacted that determine honey standards», Levan Davitashvili noted.
Business operator is obliged to produce honey under standards of the mentioned technical regulations and introduce the product into the market under the determined requirements. Consequently, honey producers are able to export products to European market if they meet the due standards.
The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has inquired specialists about perspectives of Georgian honey on EU market and whether Georgian manufacturers plan to launch exports.
Georgian specialists assert that it is very important to enter EU market for developing Georgian beekeeping and output growth, but Georgian product must meet several criteria to get onto EU and other markets. Namely: required order must be kept in hives, production line must be protected in due manner starting from manufacturer ending with laboratory and consumer; Beekeeping laboratory meeting international standards must function in the country that will be accredited in Europe and that will issue respective certificates;
Certificates of current laboratories suffice for the domestic market and these certificates do not work on EU market, specialists said.
Georgia-made products are not ready for exports to EU market, because these products have not passed certification of origin, laboratory tests that are determined by European market, they added.
Union of Beekeeper Farmers
Georgia has no potential to launch honey exports, Giorgi Kepashvili, president of Union of Beekeeper Farmers of Georgia noted. EU has completed all formal procedures and included Georgia in the list of third countries, from where honey imports are admitted to EU territory. However, this does not signify anybody is authorized to export honey to EU market, Kepashvili said.
The Government has taken a good step, but there are certain problems in the country that should have been tackled so far. Namely, primary product control is not carried out and there is no laboratory that would examine honey quality, Kepashvili said.
“Riga-based laboratory results suggest that we were to improve and the Government was to control flow of preparations that are used in beekeeping. This problem remains. The issue is of a group of antibiotics that is used for healing bees. Even a small trace of the mentioned preparation in honey is harmful for human health. We need laboratories that will explore honey samples, make qualified conclusions for issuing certificates recognized in EU. The Government’s action plan reads that the laboratory must unite all methods that ensure high-quality examination of honey. Unqualified specialists are the main reasons for misfunction of the laboratory”, Kepashvili said.
Inappropriate flow of preparations is also a problem, he added.
Price of Georgian honey is uncompetitive on international market. Namely, today international price is 1.35 EUR, while in Georgia the price is about 10-15 EUR. Moreover, if Georgia enters the EU market, the country must introduce branded honey. There must be organizations in the country that will process and pack honey under the EU standards, Kepashvili pointed out.
National Food Agency
In response to the question, why the laboratory cannot examine honey under standards, National Food Agency noted that the Agriculture Ministry laboratory works in honey direction and makes analytical conclusions too. “We cannot examine all analysis, but we are working to introduce all components. Moreover, we send samples to foreign laboratories too”, National Food Agency officials noted.
Honey manufacturing companies also talk about Georgian honey problems and difficulties with exports to foreign markets.
Tamaz Kakhidze, founder of Machakhela Datunia company, noted that the company cannot launch honey exports because of absence of laboratory. Moreover, Georgian honey cannot offer price competition on EU market. Consequently, Georgian honey cannot be exported to EU market in the near future.
«How can we export honey to Europe, where the price of honey is 3 EUR, while in Georgia the price is 10 EUR?», Kakhidze asked.
Datunia founder hopes that the EU-recognized laboratory will launch operation in Georgia in the near future and Georgian honey will enter EU market anyway.
Machakhela company launched Machakhela Datunia production in 2011.
Giorgi Tatishvili, founder of Fefe honey company, noted that the company cannot launch exports because of absence of corresponding laboratory. Thanks to personal contacts, Korean businessmen are interested in the company product, but the same problem with due laboratory frustrates exports, he said.
Company should produce a huge volume of honey to make exports profitable, Tatishvili said. This field remains abandoned in the country and there are no corresponding laboratories that would issue honey quality certificates. Consequently, companies have to obtain these certificates in other countries, including in Riga and these efforts require huge funds, Tatishvili noted.
“All these factors grows prime cost of Georgian honey and therefore, problems arise with price competition on exports markets”, Tatishvili noted. The Government should ensure Georgian honey advertising campaigns on global markets. A joint brand should be arranged, under which Georgian honey will be exported to global markets, he said.
Tatishvili also made focus on advantages of Georgian honey. It is incorrect to assert that Georgian honey is more expensive compared to honey of other origins. Georgian honey is expensive, but the product is of top quality, Tatishvili said.
“There is no other place on the globe, where honey of such high quality would be manufactured. There is no similar climate and nature elsewhere like ours, while this factor is one of the key components that determines honey quality”, Tatishvili said.
Serious AD campaign is required for advertising honey and to export products to international markets and this is the government’s responsibility, Tatishvili added.
Keskia company founder Dali Markhulia noted that there are several key problems before honey production companies in Georgia. Namely, EU standards are not satisfied. There is no corresponding laboratory in the country that would issue a quality certificate. “All these factors make Georgian honey price more expensive and therefore, our product cannot offer price competition on global markets”, Markhulia said.
According to official statistics, in 2011 Georgia exported 60.8 thousand USD honey, in 2012 – 29.2 thousand USD, in 2013 – 116.7 thousand USD, 2014 – 54.2 thousand USD, 2015 – 73.1 thousand USD.