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.

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.

Datassential Menu Tracking Report - 2019

The 2019 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 has experienced impressive growth over the last 10 years and is now on at least half of all menus across all segments.
  • Honey is the 2nd top sauce after dressing on restaurant menus surpassing BBQ.
  • Fast-casual menus feature an average of almost 5 menu items with honey, more than any other segment.
  • Sides have experienced the strongest growth, while beverages are slowing after many years of growth.

Click here to download the 2019 Datassential Menu Tracking Report.

University of California Economic Impact Report

The U.S. honey industry is thriving, according to a new study from the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. The study was directed by Dr. Daniel A. Sumner, an economist and director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, an institute that has studied the economic impacts* of many farm commodities.

Key findings include:

  • The U.S. honey industry was responsible for 22,000 jobs across the country in production, importation, and packing in 2017.
  • The honey industry contributed approximately $2.1 billion in value-added to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.
  • In 2017, Americans consumed 596 million pounds of honey, or about 1.82 pounds per person, which represents a 65 percent increase in consumption from 2009 to 2017.
  • The industry's total economic output* was $4.74 billion.

*Total economic output includes direct effects, such as workers hired to move beehives, indirect effects, like packaging supply companies for honey products, and induced effects, the wages honey industry workers spend as local businesses.

Click here to download the full Economic Impact Study.

Nielsen Category Review - 2018

This 2018 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 - 2018

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 2018 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 potential impact of specific honey messages

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

Some key findings include:

  • Unaided awareness of sweeteners across the category have declined. Usage of the historically dominant category leader, sugar, is curbing as consumers turn to alternatives. Sugar is still America's "favorite" sweetener, but Honey is ranked second. Among Natural Balancers, unaided awareness of honey as a sweetener remained stable at 22%, despite slips in awareness across the category. 
  • The number of consumers who say there is no acceptable substitute for honey has doubled since 2017 (7% to 13%), and honey is now the favorite sweetener (33%) among Natural Balancers. This is double the preference level for any other sweetener; white sugar declined by 17% points year over year.
  • Half of consumers consider honey to be a planned purchase with the intent of stocking up.  Compared to one year ago, honey as a staple has increased 12 percentage points as a stock-up item. Natural Balancers are much more likely to plan their honey purchase either as a staple on their shopping list (57%) or as a key ingredient for a meal or recipe (22%) versus the general population. 
  • A majority of Natural Balancers (58%) say they will eat more honey in the next year.  
  • Price is less of a barrier for the Natural Balancer, with 80% saying they will buy honey if price increases, and that is up over a year ago. 
  • One in four consumers is equally likely to recall a positive versus negative story about sweeteners; honey continues to be the most mentioned sweetener linked to a positive story. While consumers are increasing their usage of non-caloric sweeteners, they also report hearing negative stories about them. One out of ten consumers recalled a negative story about non-caloric sweeteners. Very few (about 2%) recall a negative honey story. 

Click here to download the full NHB U&A Study 2018 report.

New Product Introductions - 2018

The New Products report was conducted to baseline and identify new product launches in the US from January to December 2017 to inform and inspire future honey growth strategies, specifically within the categories of cereal, bakery, spreads, hot and cold drinks, sweeteners, and alcoholic beverages.

Key findings include:

  • Total new product introductions in the U.S. have appeared to level off after a 4 year growth period.
  • New products with honey represent a ~4% share of all new introductions in 2017. This is a +4% YOY growth from 2016 but has slowed down from 2014/2015 introductions. More honey products were launched in 2017 than in any previous year tracked.
  • Cereal and cereal bars as a category bounced back from declines in introductions in 2016 and are now on par with 2015 levels - the highest in a 6 year period. This category continues to own the largest share of new honey product introductions at 44%.
  • Both total bakery and honey introductions experienced growth in 2017. This is the second-largest category for honey innovation, at 31% and frequently includes traditional baked goods (cakes, pies, and cookies), as well as 'baked snacks'.
  • Spreads reflect just under 7% of all new product launches with honey and this category is in the top 5 for honey innovation; however, new product launches have leveled out after reaching a peak in introductions in 2015.
  • Beverage innovation with honey has been stable; however, that was driven by cold beverages in 2017 vs. hot beverages in 2016. Cold beverages as a category have been experiencing declines over the past 3 years while hot beverages have experienced a 3 year growth period; albeit from a small base.
  • The alcoholic beverage category experienced its third consecutive year of growth in new product introductions. Honey represents a good size share of new products in this category at 7.3%.
  • The sugar and sweetener category, while a small base size overall, continues to remain flat. The number of honey products in this category slipped from previous years and is now on par with 2014 levels. We are starting to see some hybrid innovation, leveraging the benefits of honey combined with other better for you sweeteners.

Click here to download the full New Product Introductions report.

Datassential Menu Tracking Report - 2018

Often characterized as a sweetener, honey is increasingly recognized as a highly versatile, multifunctional ingredient, and has seen growth across all menu categories and dayparts year over year, according to a 2018 Datassential report. The research utilized Datassential’s Menutrends Metrics to track trends and honey mentions at 4,800 restaurants nationwide.
Key findings include:

  • Breakfast had the highest 4-year growth of all the dayparts with a 24% increase.
  • Beverages containing honey have experienced double-digit 4-year growth, with the average beverage menu (from a restaurant serving honey), featuring 2 beverages incorporating the ingredient.
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages have each seen a 45% growth over 4 years - the greatest uptick of all menu parts. Notably, honey-inspired non-alcoholic beverages were up 23% for the year (2017-2018).
  • Southern-inspired dishes with honey are trending and honey is appearing more frequently with savory dishes such as fried chicken, mac and cheese, and brussels sprouts.
  • Sriracha honey has seen the most explosive growth of all honey flavor combinations, up 401% over 4 years, and 54% for the year (2017-2018).
  • Spicy honey is up 45% since 2014.
  • Hot honey has also popped up on more menus, seeing a 54% growth over 4 years.
  • While they currently have low penetration, honey varietals such as Tupelo, Wildflower, Orange Blossom, and Acacia are appearing on more and more menus. 

To receive the full report, please email [email protected].