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New rules on the labelling of the origin of honey blends adopted at the initiative of Slovenia

A political agreement was reached between the EU Council and the European Parliament on Tuesday, 30 January 2024, regarding the European Commission's proposals for greater transparency in the labelling of the origin of honey blends.
A jar of honey with a lid, featuring an origin label.

Protected Slovenian Honey. | Author Slovenian Beekeeper's Association

The revision of the Honey Directive, which is part of a series of amendments to various breakfast directives, was important for Slovenia, as for several years we have been advocating the introduction of clearer labelling of the origin for honey blends, so that, in addition to indicating each country of origin, the proportion of honey from a particular country is also recorded. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Mateja Čalušić, welcomes the agreement as an important step towards ensuring transparency for consumers and combating honey fraud.

In 2020, Slovenia and Portugal presented an initiative for labelling the exact origin of honey at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council. The then Honey Directive 2001/110/EC made it compulsory for honey producers and manufacturers to label the country of origin of the honey, but if the honey blend originated in more than one Member State or third country, the product could be labelled as "blend of EU honeys", "blend of non-EU honeys" or "blend of EU and non-EU honeys". This labelling of honey blends did not provide consumers with comprehensive and unambiguous information on the origin of the honey, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, at the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association, has therefore started activities for a possible amendment of the Honey Directive in the part providing for the labelling of honey blends originating in several countries. Clearer labelling of the origin of food is also recognised in the European Green Deal and is one of the key elements of the Farm to Fork strategy.

Minister Mateja Čalušić welcomed the agreement as an important step towards ensuring transparency for consumers and combating honey fraud. "This change is important both for the beekeeping sector and for the consumer, who needs to be transparently informed about where the honey comes from, and we have also made it very clear that there is no room for fakes on our shelves. Slovenia can therefore be very proud of the agreement reached, and thanks are also due to Slovenian beekeepers for their initiative to clearly label the origin of honey blends."

The adopted amendments to the directive concern in particular the labelling of honey blends originating in several countries and bring new standards in labelling. The labelling of honey blends by country of origin will now be in descending order, with the share expressed as a percentage. Honey and honey blends will thus be labelled with all countries of origin in descending order with their respective percentages. However, each Member State will additionally be able to make an exception for honey blends to be labelled with only the four countries with the highest shares if the total share of the blend from these four countries exceeds 50% of the total blend.

An EU expert platform on the prevention of honey fraud, which will make recommendations for an effective traceability system, will also be set up. The amendments also include the setting of a new standard for the proportion of fruit in jams and marmalades. In addition, the new directive allows the possibility to use the term "marmalade" also for jams, reflecting an adjustment in the definition of terms in line with the diversity of products on the market. Furthermore, the directive foresees a report by the European Commission on the possibilities of indicating the origin of fruit and sugar in jams. These amendments will help increase transparency and traceability and ensure quality and information for consumers.