Honey prices record high in 2009, outturn down 12%

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — Honey prices in 2009 were record high for the second consecutive year as production declined 12% from 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its annual Honey report. The number of producing bee colonies increased 5% from 2008, but honey yield per colony dropped 16%.

The average price for all classes of honey sold through all channels was a record 144.5c a lb in 2009, up 2% from the previous record high of 142.1c in 2008, the U.S.D.A. said. The average price at retail was 278.4c a lb, up 24% from 224.7c in 2008, and at the cooperative and private level was 139.2c, up 3% from 135.4c.

The total value of honey produced in 2009 was $208,236,000, down 11% from $232,744,000 a year earlier.

Production of all types of honey totaled 144,108,000 lbs in 2009, down 12% from 163,789,000 lbs in 2008 and 19% below the 10-year average of 178,829,000 lbs, the U.S.D.A. said. After increasing in 2008 for the first time since 2004, production in 2009 was the lowest in records going back more than 50 years.

Stocks of honey held by producers on Dec. 15, 2009, totaled 37,153,000 lbs, down 27% from 51,159,000 lbs a year earlier.

The number of producing colonies rose 5% from 2,342,000 in 2008 to 2,462,000 in 2009, the U.S.D.A. said. But honey yield per colony averaged only 58.5 lbs in 2009, down 16% from 69.9 lbs in 2008 and the lowest since the early 1980s.

The six states of North Dakota, South Dakota, California, Florida, Minnesota and Montana accounted for 64% of the nation’s honey production in 2009, with top producing North Dakota producing 24% of the total.

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