A market for Indian honey in the North American market has prompted Intertek to launch a honey certification service for manufacturers and exporters in India.
Intertek India Pvt Ltd, the fully owned subsidiary of Intertek Inc, already has certification and testing capabilities in India for various sectors including the food sector, according to Rajesh Saigal, managing director for Intertek India.
In an announcement last week, Intertek said that, under the True Source Honey (TSH), it will certify whole chain traceability and sustainability of ethically sourced, fairly traded honey, for which it will be partnering with USA's True Source Honey LLC.
The latter is an effort by a number of honey companies and importers to call attention to the problem of illegally sourced honey, according to Intertek.
“Honey is one of the few remaining food products that is considered natural or without added ingredients and additives that alter the composition of the product. To protect the product, True Source Honey will work with honey companies in the countries of origin and US importers to set a global standard for high-quality honey,” said Saigal.
According to Saigal, Intertek will play an integral part in helping to set this standard, as it will handle all of the traceability audits, inspect the containers of honey imported into the US and test honey samples for country of origin.
When asked why the company chose India for this service, Saigal said that India is an increasingly important supplier of quality, mild honey with versatility as a retail, food service and ingredient honey for the North American market.
“India is identified as a potential point of transshipment for honey from China en-route to the United States in order to avoid duties. Honey may be directly transshipped or first commingled with high quality Indian honey and then shipped,” he said.
Saigal added that True Source Certified will serve as a means to clearly identify and differentiate honey of Indian origin, to preserve the image of Indian honey and that of legitimate beekeepers and exporters.
On what Intertek expects as a response to this service Saigal pointed out current practices, where independent honey brokers and importers are leveraging ways to by-pass tariffs and quality controls in order to sell honey in the US.
“This by-passing of the approved processes hinders the US honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey’s reputation as a safe, high-quality food,” he said.
According to Saigal, TSH will provide awareness of the problem of incorrect sourcing of honey with identifying origin & traceability through an Intertek audit that their sourcing practices of honey are in full compliance with US and international trade laws.
The TSH initiative is global and approximately 10 countries are currently approved for participation, including United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Uruguay and Vietnam.