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
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.
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).
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).]
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.
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.