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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
    Posts
    67

    Question

    This year I will have 11 hives, and if all goes well I should average at least 60lbs each, which is what I got last year, which was my first year and a bad year for honey. That puts me at 660lbs, hopefully more, plus some Ross Rounds comb honey. That is going to be much more than I can sell to friends and family. I would like to sell through my local grocery store and food Co-op, as I know it would sell very well in both locations. I am located in Minnesota and have scoured the USDA website for my state, but I can't seem to find the regulations for selling honey like this. Am I missing something? I want to do this completely legally and when I contact these places, i want to sound like I know what I'm talking about.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Founder and co-investor in Jaybee Honey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,550

    Post

    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
    Posts
    67

    Post

    Coyote, I've happened upon that before, but I know some states have restrictions such as honey must be extracted in a stainless steel extractor, etc. Does anybody who sells in MN know?
    Founder and co-investor in Jaybee Honey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,550

    Post

    There's a toll-free number on the site for the department of agriculture in Minnesota. Give them a call and they can probably answer the question or direct you to someone who has authority over packing honey.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Julian, NC, USA
    Posts
    252

    Post

    Not to be discouraging, but 660lb of honey probably does not justify a super market. Most grocers will want a consistent supply of honey throughout the year and you will not be able to provide.
    I would pursue smaller venues such as farmers markets or farm stores. I believe this will add more value to your product, give you an identity with your purchasers and put more money back into your pocket.
    For what it's worth.

    Kurt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
    Posts
    67

    Post

    Kuert, what i was thinking of doing is just having it be a special seasonal item, much like pumpkins that the local farmers sell at the stores. While it would be nice to supply them year round, I agree with you- it just woiuldn't be possible.
    Founder and co-investor in Jaybee Honey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.
    Posts
    1,895

    Post

    Your better off starting at a small outlet, like a local gift shop or specialty store.
    I sell out every year this way. Our local grocery store has been asking for a few years about putting honey on their shelf, but at this point I could not keep them stocked. Using only a few small gift shops and a bakery, I sold over 1,200 lbs of honey last year. I would say that within a year or two I should be able to put honey on the grocery shelf and keep it stocked.
    You don't want to get a product into a store and then not be able to handle the demand. It is the quickest way to lose customers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Post

    I agree, MountainCamp, and have always thought this way as well that it's best to keep the shelves stocked or you'll lose customers.

    But as I thought of your/my logic, if I run out of honey, I lose the customer. But since I don't have any honey, I can't keep them anyway. I think the real question may be this: Will they return to buy from me when the new crop comes in?

    I sell most of my honey from a stand in my driveway with an honor box. Having run out in some years has not seemed to deter the customers the next year. My biggest problem seems to be in educating the customer that honey is not like turning on a tap. There is great seasonality to it, and in some years I sell out and have to wait for the next season.

    I wish you well this coming year!
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    napoleon ohio
    Posts
    769

    Post

    I sell mostly at the local farmers market in a small town about 450 pounds the last few years.I have the same problem one store wants my honey but i can not keep up.I allready have people asking when i will be at the farmers market.Surpriseing how many people think honey and tomatoes should be ready by may.But they wait till i get in the first batch anyway.Just keep at the small markets they get a bit bigger every year.
    Mitch KD8IMF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    307

    Post

    >> I sell mostly at the local farmers market in a small town about 450 pounds the last few years

    How many times did you have to go to the market to sell 450 pounds? And how big a market is it (number of vendors)? Just curious as to how much to expect to sell each day.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,550

    Post

    For those who are running out of honey...

    Would your customers consider buying honey that you "imported" from another beekeeper? Maybe they would be interested in a wider variety of honeys that are produced within a geographic area that they would still consider to be local. If you could offer the same quality honey for the same price and expand your season or volume it might be worth investigating. I'm not suggesting that you buy a drum of someone else's honey and pack it and label it as your own, rather that you offer a handful of differently labelled honeys together with your own.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

    Post

    This is another link to the MN Dept. of Ag site.

    http://www.mnhba.org/index.html

    It says all you need to do is have your honey labeled properly.

    That being said, here is what I know. I don't remember the source for some of this info, but if it is important to you-I can try and dig deeper to re-locate the source.

    First, your hives and apiary must be registered with the state. That is a law anyhow, but they can ask for your state certification-(I think it is supposed to be on display, or at least available for review)

    Raw honey is treated as an ag product-just like sweet corn, or tomatoes or fresh eggs. As long as it is just honey, there are few regulations. However, if you want to produce creamed honey, or flavored honey, then it is supposed to be done in an approved kitchen, and meet all the food service regulations.

    I think somewhere there is a rule about not using recycled containers.

    I don't know about the grocery store, they have their own rules they need to follow, so I don't know if they could/would buy from you.
    The co-ops are usually more flexible though, so that might be the best bet. You could possibly even provide it in 5Gallon pails and let them bottle their own.
    Otherwise, try the farmer's markets and roadside stands. I sell at a pumpkin/christmas tree farm in their gift shop on consignment, and that works well for me.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

    Post

    I tried to edit the link, but couldn't. When you click on it, it goes to the MN honeybee association website (full of good info) At the bottom, under links, click on MN dept of ag, then towards the bottom of that page, click on apiary info. Start there.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    napoleon ohio
    Posts
    769

    Post

    BeeBear
    The town is about 10,000 population and we have an average of about 6 venders but as many as 12 on saturday mornings 8 till 1.So far i am the obnly one selling honey. How much i sell verys alot.The first few days go well after that it is up and down.The farmers market here rund thru october.I go till i run out of honey or tired of freezing.
    Mitch KD8IMF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Don't forget Food Coop's. They are frequented by folks that love home produced items.

    I really do not think you will "lose" a customer if your yearly crop runs out. If your product is excellent they will be eager to get your new crop.

    I worked in a grocery store for 3 years and they deal with seasonal items all the time. Most smaller grocers (if there are any left) will welcome your product even if you can't supply them year long.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Alpharetta, GA, USA
    Posts
    520

    Post

    How does it work when selling in a Co-op or small grocery store? Does a beekeeper stock the shelf with x bottles of honey and wait til any sell to get money or does the store buy x bottles from the beekeeper and sell at their decided price?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    It can go either way.

    Most often the grocer will buy the case. You get your money right away. Reluctant grocers may be open to a consignment style where you stock a shelf and visit weekly and restock and charge for sold jars. (offer this only to very reluctant folks).

    I do not have experience with Co-op's after moving here in the hinterlands.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Williston, NC, USA
    Posts
    1,779

    Post

    Regulations in my area of NC are non-existent. I sell through the mom & pop grocery down the street, a community market in the town closest, a farmers market in the city a little further down the pike, a couple of hardware stores and roadside. All the stores purchase the honey from me and then sell it at a markup. The community market allows me to either rent shelf space and sell it on consignment or they will buy it like the others (I usually opt for the second choice). All my regular customers are aware of the fact that I can't supply them year round, so I have advance orders--5 gallons of honey I don't even have yet are already sold. And to think that when I got my first two hives, I was only interested in them pollinating my squash and didn't care about the honey aspect!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    waco, tx
    Posts
    528

    Post

    Anyone know what's required (label, equipment, etc.) in TX?

    Thanks

    Lew

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    GA, USA
    Posts
    183

    Post

    Same question for GA. Is there an inspection required of the packing facility(my kitchen with an extractor and a bottling pail )

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