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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Central CA.


    How would you handle or answer the following questions presented to me from a retail grocery store? I inquired if they were interested in carrying local honey. His question to me was am I insured and is my honey inspected by the usda.

    I had never had anyone ask those questions before and so all I could say to him was, I'll research the necessity of both. What are your thoughts and experience on these two issues? thanks

  2. #2
    jfischer Guest


    Insurance is a basic requirement that
    divides the "real" businesses from the
    fly-by-night. That said, I doubt that
    he requires other local suppliers of
    produce to carry product liability insurance,
    so you need to ask him if he has different
    requirements for honey versus, for example,
    local sweet corn or local tomatoes.

    One can obtain an "umbrella policy" in
    addition to one's homeowner's policy for
    very little money, and then know that one
    is "insured" for just about any risk.

    If one obtains one's homeowner's insurance
    from the Farm Bureau for your state, one
    can even get insurance to cover sales of
    actual "products of the farm".

    "Inspected by the USDA" is only done when
    one has a meat-packing plant or a large
    scale food packaging facility. In fact,
    the USDA has the states do most of the
    actual inspecting. The state of Virginia
    does nearly all the inspecting of both
    my honey house and the bottling plant that
    bottles Bee-Quick for me.

    Most states have "food processing facility"
    regulations, and if one has a honey house
    that is kept clean, and uses stainless
    steel and/or food-grade plastic, then one
    can pass their inspection with little trouble.

    To confuse matters further, one can buy a
    color-matching rig, and self-inspect one's
    honey, allowing one to put "USDA Grade A",
    "Grade B", whatever on one's honey.
    "USDA Grade" is really nothing much more
    than a way to describe the SHADE of the
    honey, how light or dark it is.

  3. #3


    Good info from VA, thank you.

    A while back one of the bee magazines talked about insurance. I think a beekeeper specific policy (not umbrella) was about $300/year. I'll need to sell a lot more honey to afford that.

    On the USDA inspections I am not sure. They are welcome to come and inspect me if they want. I might be tempted to say that I have passed every inspection by them even if they never had come...My guess is that a lot of small commercial operations would be in a lot of trouble if their honey houses were inspected.

    As an aside, I would ask how much honey you are trying to market that you are hitting up a grocery store. I would guess that they would be more price sensitive, require UPC coding, and would want a consistent year round supply. With the smaller independent stores that I sell at these things are not true (well they still want oney year round but they understand some of the seasonality to things).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Fremont, New Hampshire, USA


    The color of extracted honey has nothing to do with the grade assigned. The color wheels will help you determine the USDA Color Standard only not the grade.

    The USDA grade is assign based upon a score of percent soluble solids, absense of defects,
    flavor and aroma.

    [This message has been edited by The Honey House (edited September 09, 2004).]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    I'm pretty disappointed in the standards then. The flavor and aroma of all of the the "grade A" honey in the grocery stores that I've tried is horrible.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Central CA.


    Thanks for you input so far.

    I have also been busy checking with National Honey Board, local county ag office and waiting to hear from our ag extension.

    I'm beginning to understand there is no are plenty of simple questions but no simple answers.


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