Our prices have traditionally been based on a national honey price that is typically determined by the supply and demand of honey in the U.S. Factors that affect honey prices include production per year, consumer demand and honey that is imported. For many years we have struggled with the last factor. The U.S. has not been able to produce enough honey to satisfy demand since the 1940's. So much of the honey sold in the U.S. is imported. As our society has moved from a production to tech and service based economy, it becomes more and more difficult to compete with foreign producers who still are able to hire inexpensive labor and keep their production costs low. Unfortunately we don't have any control over ag production in other countries and cannot control the quality, so often the honey that hits our shores is sub-par at best.
For many year this imported honey controlled the open market honey price in the U.S. While the honey was not as good as our U.S. domestically produced honey, no difference was recognized by consumers. Honey was honey. This paradigm seems to be shifting as consumers are becoming more food aware. People are seeking out locally produced products and often are willing to pay a little extra to assure quality.
This trend became very evident to us last year as a new wave of honey was flooding the market from the Ukrain. The surge of imports dropped honey prices to a 10 year low. However, U.S. producers who packed and sold their crop saw a slight increase in market price. It was obvious that the honey market as we knew it has divided into two markets. Consumers had made the change by recognizing quality and became willing to pay for it.
We now have to asses our prices relative to our domestic partners and our production in our region and weigh it against demand. This year the entire western half of the U.S. had a very poor august production, no one really know why. Our inter-Rocky mountain region was down in honey production by almost half of "normal". Demand for good regional honey is very strong and with low supply and high demand we feel that a slight price increase is in order.