MARKET RESEARCH

Market Research Overview

The summaries below are intended to highlight several of the key findings from market research studies conducted or funded by the National Honey Board.


Nielsen Category Review - 2020

This 2020 Nielsen Category Review looks at the honey category in the retail space. Areas featured include:

  • Growth of honey category by pounds and dollars at retail
  • Branded vs. private label honey
  • Household penetration and buying rate
  • Purchase frequency and purchase size
  • Retail outlets (grocery, club stores, etc.)
  • Regional market growth
  • Container preference among consumers
  • Honey buyer household demographics

Click here to download the full Nielsen Category Review report.


Use & Attitude Study - 2020

The National Honey Board is committed to designing and conducting research that enables the industry to identify opportunities and make informed decisions to increase demand for honey.

The 2020 Attitudes and Usage study was conducted with the following objectives:

Track attitudes, awareness, and usage of honey among a general population sample and newly identified target audience, Goodness Seekers.

This was an online survey among 2,000 U.S. consumers, with basic demographics balanced to U.S. census.

Some key findings include:

  • Top of mind awareness had moderate declines for all sweeteners, including honey vs year ago (influenced by wording change).
  • However, usage has increase, by ~ 10% points for all sweeteners including honey vs 2019.
  • Perceptions for honey remain strong, only health perceptions increased vs year ago.
  • The number one preferred sweetener is honey, beating out white sugar for the first time in five years.
  • The morning occasion remains strong ~ 50% of occasions.
  • Most honey purchases are planned driven by pantry refill, recipe needs. At the shelf consumers are influence by brand trust, price and honey claims as drivers of choice.
  • Positive story recall is up YOY and negative story recall declined. Positive news is driven by perceived “better for you” sweeteners.
  • New target, Goodness Seekers, identify honey as their favorite sweetener, 2:1 vs white granulated sugar.
  • The Goodness Seeker is more sensitive to sustainability concerns, and more likely to understand honey consumption is good for the bees.

Click here to download the full NHB A&U Study 2020 report.


Innova New Product Introductions – 2020

The New Products report was conducted to baseline and identify new product launches in the US from January to December 2019 to inform and inspire future honey growth strategies, specifically within the categories of cereal, bakery, spreads, sweeteners, alcoholic beverages, sauces and seasonings, and cold beverages.

This report includes the following core honey derivatives (among other nuance forms not listed, within specific categories):

  • Honey Flavor
  • Natural Honey Flavor
  • Pure Honey

Key findings include:

  • Total new product introductions in the U.S. experienced a slight increase in growth from 2018 (+3%)
  • While new honey product introductions also experienced an increase in growth (+5% pts), outpacing total food growth.
  • Honey still represents 3.9% share of all food introductions, flat from 2018.
  • We see a lot of innovation progress in key categories essential to honey, such as bakery, sauces, alcoholic beverages (each 8-9% of all New Product introductions).
    • However, new products with honey are down year-over-year in many these categories, except sauces & seasonings and alcoholic beverages.
  • Although granulated/cane sugars still dominate introductions in most categories, we are seeing Stevia, Monk Fruit, Coconut Sugar, Agave and Maple Syrup growing at a significant pace and gaining share.
    • This is happening in traditional categories like cereal and bakery, and we even saw monk fruit overtake honey introductions in cold beverages, showing it is a true competitor, not just an emerging threat.

​​​​​​Click here to download the full 2020 New Product Introductions report.


Datassentials Menu Tracking Report – 2020

The 2020 Menu Tracking Study was conducted with the objective of understanding how honey is being used in the foodservice industry and to track honey inclusions on menus within key operators and categories.

This study utilized MenuTrends which offers access to over 100,000 distinct US menus and quantitative analysis of more than 1.1 million hand-coded items. The databases cover all types of menus – chains, independents, food trucks, and non-commercial. In addition, the study analyzed the US Chains and Independents database which tracks 4,800 restaurants, balanced to the U.S. restaurant census by segment, region, and cuisine type. It also captures both ethnic and non-ethnic restaurants with 25 different cuisine types.

Key findings include:

  • Honey is found on 61% of menus and is projected to grow 3 percentage points in the next 4 years. It has the highest penetration on fine dining menus.
  • Honey usage has grown in the non-alcoholic beverage category. Honey works as a natural superfood and functional ingredient in many trending health-focused beverages, such as matcha latte, kombucha, and functional juices.
  • Honey is growing in the vintage cocktail space. It’s used both as a sweetener and counterbalance to vinegar or bitter liquors like shrubs, Campari, and fernet.
  • Chicken and honey pairings are growing through the introduction of southern classics like chicken thighs, fried chicken sandwiches, and chicken & waffles.
  • Honey is recognized for its flavor versatility. Beyond the traditional honey mustard, honey can take on bold, spicy flavors like spicy honey, hot honey, and habanero.

Click here to download the 2020 Datassential Menu Tracking Report.


Nielsen Category Review - 2019

This 2019 Nielsen Category Review looks at the honey category in the retail space. Areas featured include:

  • Growth of honey category by pounds and dollars at retail
  • Branded vs. private label honey
  • Household penetration and buying rate
  • Purchase frequency and purchase size
  • Retail outlets (grocery, club stores, etc.)
  • Regional market growth
  • Container preference among consumers
  • Honey buyer household demographics

Click here to download the full Nielsen Category Review report.


Use & Attitude Survey - 2019

The National Honey Board is committed to designing and conducting research that enables the industry to identify opportunities and make informed decisions to increase the demand for honey.

The 2019 Attitudes and Usage study was conducted with the following objectives:

Track attitudes, awareness, and usage of honey among a general population sample and identified target audience, Natural Balancers

  • Assess the potential impact of specific honey messages
  • This was an online survey among 2,000 U.S. consumers, with basic demographics balanced to the U.S. census. 

Some key findings include:

  • Top of Mind awareness is increasing for honey and sugar.
  • Perceptions of honey remain strong but have declined year-over-year.
  • Stated usage is softening primarily driven by 'heavy' users.
  • The morning occasion remains strong and increased for Gen Pop year-over-year.
  • Shopping behavior is playing out the need for local and raw - consumers are shopping more at farmer's markets and with their local beekeepers.
  • Relevance, value, and convenience continue to be key barriers to consumption and opportunities to drive growth.
  • Because of high loyalty to honey, Natural Balancers skew to "heavy users" which is impacting year-over-year behaviors.
  • Natural Balancers are increasingly more sensitive to price, impacting purchase frequency as raw/organic become a great portion of the mix.

Click here to download the full NHB U&A Study 2019 report.


Volumetric Study - 2019

The National Honey Board conducts a comprehensive volumetric study every 5 years to determine the US market sizing for honey across all channels. This study is used to forecast growth and identify trends driving market changes. It also helps to refine or redirect NHB programming for future growth.

These categories made up the U.S. honey market in 2019:

  • Retail "Pure" Honey - 35%
  • Foodservice Honey - 23%
  • Food Processors - 34%
  • Industrial Other - 8%

Full study available upon request. To receive the full report, please email [email protected].


Food Labeling Study - 2019

Following the announcement of the FDA's proposed changes to labeling rules, the National Honey Board agreed to do consumer research, both quantitative and qualitative, on the new label guidance for single ingredient sweeteners. 

Some Key Findings Include: 

  • All three FDA honey labels containing blank spaces and added sugar footnotes create confusion amongst consumers.
  • These proposed labels also result in consumers being less confident that the honey has no other sugars added to it. 
  • All three labels tested contribute to declines in stated purchase intent.

Click here to download the full Food Labeling Study report.


Ingredient Manufacturer Study - 2019

The purpose of this study is to survey ingredient manufacturers to understand the role of natural sweeteners in products, what makes a good or bad natural sweetener, what drives their decision criteria, how honey fits into their consideration set, and why are they buying more/same/less vs a year ago?

The goal of this study is to identify the most effective way to position honey to ingredient manufacturers to protect and grow future usage.

Key findings include:

  • Although we've qualitatively experienced challenges, compared to other sweetener ingredients, the story around honey remains positive.
  • Honey had the lowest decrease in stated purchase compared to last year and looking forward, over half of the manufacturers are planning to increase their purchase of honey.
  • Honey ranks as first or second in performance on three of the top five most important manufacturer decision criteria:
    • Taste and flavor cues
    • Health cues
    • Good value for the price
  • There is an opportunity to improve perceptions around the stability of supply, price, and manufacturability.
  • Although manufacturers consider other sweeteners to be more competitively priced, they's be most willing to pay a premium for honey as an ingredient.
  • White sugar remains honey's biggest competitor, however, it will also be important to keep an eye on Monk fruit. Manufacturers report using more Monk fruit compared to last year and the sweetener performs well on both health and price.

​​​​​​Click here to download the full Ingredient Manufacturer Study report.


New Product Introductions - 2019

The New Products report was conducted to baseline and identify new product launches in the US from January to December 2019 to inform and inspire future honey growth strategies, specifically within the categories of cereal, bakery, spreads, sweeteners, alcoholic beverages, sauces and seasonings, and cold beverages.

This report includes the following core honey derivatives (among other nuance forms not listed, within specific categories):

  • Honey Flavor
  • Natural Honey Flavor
  • Pure Honey

Key findings include:

  • Total new product introductions in the U.S. experienced its highest growth since 2014.
  • Manufacturers and retailers are continuing to invest in developing new products, more so than last year, indicating opportunities to present unique solutions to drive growth through innovation.
  • New products with honey represent a 3.8% share if all introductions in 2018. This is a slight decline in honey introductions and share, down from 4.3% in 2017.
  • There is a significant opportunity to source volume from other new product introductions in strategic categories.
  • Honey is losing new product share in many of the top categories where we have historically shown strength, we need to refocus efforts on cereal, bakery, and cold drinks.
  • In the bakery category specifically, there is crossover within snacking (e.g., crackers, cookies, etc.) making this category increasingly more important to focus on.
  • Opportunity to capture more share in sauces and seasonings and snack categories as both are categories with high share in new introductions for total food and honey.
  • Besides sugar, honey's competition is primarily coming from stevia, maple syrup, and monk fruit. This aligns with the trends today as low-calorie sweeteners continue to grow in popularity.

Click here to download the full New Product Introductions report.