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 - 2017

This 2017 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 - 2017

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 2017 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
  • Establish benchmarks for future tracking

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

Some key findings include:

  • Honey was the fifth most mentioned sweetener (unaided) among the general sample, surpassed only by sugar and other “branded” sweeteners. However, on an aided measure, honey is the second most named sweetener.  Honey is the second most preferred (or second favorite) sweetener, just behind granulated sugar. The target audience, Natural Balancers, have above-average preference for honey. They are also more likely to be aware of (and using) different honey varietals.
  • Although only about one-fourth of the total sample and one-third of Natural Balancers can recall a positive story about sweeteners, those who can are most likely to mention honey as the sweetener of topic. Consumers generally remember that the positive story was in regards to the various health benefits of honey.
  • Sweetener advertisements had much higher recall among both audiences, but honey was less frequently mentioned as the subject matter (behind non-calorie sweeteners), likely contributing to the high unaided awareness of brands like Splenda, Stevia, etc.
  • Honey delivers highly on the attributes that are most important to general consumers and Natural Balancers – Flavor, Something Everyone Would Enjoy, Health, etc.  Honey is also named as the top one or two sweetener best described by these attributes. Honey largely competes for delivery with the other sweeteners that are most top of mind, like sugar and non-calorie sweeteners. However, honey outperforms sugar as being more flavorful, healthy, natural/ unprocessed, and having a clean ingredient label.
  • Honey is primarily being consumed in beverages and at breakfast, but over two-fifths (43%) of consumers say they typically use honey for a recipe. About one in five of the total sample and two in five Natural Balancers expect to increase their honey consumption in the next year or two.
  • Two in five consumers indicate they are willing to pay more for a product with honey and 83% of consumers will pay more for a product that promotes bee friendly causes.


Foodservice Attitudes & Usage - 2017

The 2017 Foodservice A&U was conducted to examine general attitudes, usage, preference, and barriers to using honey (relative to other key competing sweeteners).

This was an online quantitative study with 500 commercial and non-commercial operators.

Key findings include:

  • Sugar leads in all keys measures, including preference, usage, effectiveness, and versatility. Honey is a strong second across these measures, with agave syrup coming in at a distant third. Sugar is seen as delivering best on versatility, and interestingly, the second-highest attribute for sugar is wholesome and all-natural.
  • Honey is mostly attributed to being natural/unprocessed, having an appealing flavor, and being a nutritious sweetener option. In fact, honey's all-natural attribute resonates strongest with operators as being the most relevant message about honey.
  • Price (47%) and consumer demand (42%) are the top reasons operators avoid using honey. Although, among operators increasing usage, consumer demand is the top reason for doing so. Limited-Service Restaurants over-index on reasons pertaining to lack of knowledge on how to use and source honey.
  • Bulk honey usage is being driven by Full-Service Restaurants using honey as a cooking ingredient (75%), baking ingredient (59%), sauces (47%), and dressings (45%).

Click here to download the full Foodservice A&U report.


Honey Menu Tracking – 2017

The 2017 Menu Tracking Study was conducted with the objective of tracking honey inclusions on menus within key operators and categories.

This study utilized the MenuTrends and U.S. and Independents database for findings. The sample was an even split of chains and independents and was 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 one of the top sauces/flavors on restaurant menus and has grown steadily over the last decade. As of 2017, honey appears on 57.5% of US restaurant menus, an increase of 11% since 2011.
  • Fast-casual operators off the highest average number of honey items on menus at 4.4 times. Fine dining has the largest honey penetration of all segments at 69%.
  • Breakfast is the fastest-growing daypart for honey menuing, though all dayparts are showing growth. On breakfast menus, honey has been appearing more frequently in breakfast bowls with yogurt and/or granola.
  • Operators are increasingly adding honey to their alcoholic beverage menus in the form of cocktails and to non-alcoholic beverages like ice tea, lemonade, and juice.
  • Honey has seen strong 4-year growth being paired with trending foods like quinoa, brussel sprouts, and Greek yogurt.

Click here to download the full Honey Menu Tracker study.


New Product Introductions - 2017

The New Products report was conducted to baseline and identify new product launches in the US from January to December 2016 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:

  • New products with honey represent a ~4% share of all new introductions in 2016 and have demonstrated consistent growth in the last five years.
  • Cereal, baked goods, and alcoholic beverages are almost half (45%) of all new honey product launches. Snacks, sauces, and spreads reflect almost one-quarter of honey's new product launches. Year over year growth was experienced across all categories, with the exception of cereals and sauces/seasonings.
  • Cereal and cereal bars as a category experienced gains from last year and currently own the largest share of new honey product launches.
  • National bakery introductions remained relatively flat from 2015 to 2016; however, honey products in the category experienced a 6% point gain during this period. Sugar still dominates baked goods at a 77% share.
  • Spreads reflect 7% of all new product launches with honey; however, there has been a 44% increase in new product introductions since 2015.
  • Beverage innovation with honey grew year over year; however, that was driven by hot beverages with almost doubled. Cold beverages have been experiencing declines over the past 3 years.
  • The alcoholic beverage category experienced the largest percent change growth (+72%) from the previous year. Honey represents a good size share of new products in this category at 13%.
  • The sugar and sweetener category, while a small base size overall, experience the largest declines from 2015 to 2016 (-18%). However, the number of honey products in this category has increased over the past 3 years while competing sweeteners have remained stagnant or experienced more volatile trends.

Click here to download the full New Product Introductions report.


Nielsen Category Review - 2016

This 2016 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.


Nielsen Category Review - 2015

This 2015 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


Use & Attitude Survey - 2013

To get a better understanding of how consumers perceive honey, as well as how they use it, the National Honey Board conducted a usage and attitude survey at the beginning of 2013. In January, a total of 501 households, which consisted of men and women between the ages of 21 and 74, were interviewed using random digit dialing, including 20 percent cell phones (new for 2013).

Some key findings include:

  • From 2012 to 2013, there was an increase from 54 percent to 70 percent in consumers reporting that they purchased honey in the past year. Among moms, honey purchases increased from 61 percent to 75 percent in the past year.
  • Among Current Users who say their households are consuming more honey than last year, there was an increase from 16 percent in 2012 to 31 percent who cite that honey is healthier/better for them.
  • Honey continues to be used predominantly for food-related purposes, including in tea (55%), as an ingredient in a recipe (51%), and on toast/biscuits/muffins/cornbread (46%).
  • Over half of consumers are likely to use honey for non-food purposes. Among non-food purposes, consumers are most likely to use honey as a cough suppressant. One in five moms reports using honey as a cough suppressant/throat soother (19%).
  • From 2012 to 2013, there was a slight increase from 65 to 70 percent of consumers reporting that it is extremely or very important to them that honey is pure.
  • Current Users are most likely to incorrectly assess the statements about purity: "Pure honey has ingredients other than honey," "The darker the honey, the more pure it is," and "Honey without pollen is not honey," all of which are false.


Use & Attitude Survey - 2012

In order to better understand consumer's perceptions of honey and how they use it, the National Honey Board conducted a usage and attitude survey. In 2012, a total of 512 households, which consisted of men and women between the ages of 21 and 74, were interviewed using random digit dialing.

Some key findings include:

  • Compared to 2009, significantly more current users indicate they have consumed "much more" or "somewhat more" honey in the past year (32% versus 15%).
  • 85% of current users report that honey is used at least once a month in their household.
  • Honey continues to be used predominantly for food-related purposes, including in tea (67%), as an ingredient in a recipe (64%) and on toast/biscuits/muffins/cornbread (62%).
  • More respondents report using honey for non-food purposes this year than in 2009; of note, women, adults over 50, non-Caucasians and parents are the most likely groups to report using honey as a cough-suppressant.
  • The percentage of detractors – those who say they either "probably would not buy" or "definitely would not buy" honey – has declined to 47% from 2009 (57%) and 2006 (87%).


Moms and Health Professionals - 2011

In order to drive the National Honey Board's (NHB) educational campaign for consumers and health care professionals, the NHB conducted focus groups and a nationally fielded online survey which revealed a need for more education around babies and honey. The NHB research consisted of three focus groups among moms and three focus groups among health care professionals. Directional findings from the focus groups helped form questions that were given in an online nationwide survey of 500 moms with children ages 5 and younger fielded March 23-30th 2011.

Some key findings include:

  • More than half (57%) erroneously think babies should be 2 years or older before feeding them honey.
  • Only 15 percent of moms say they were afraid their child might inadvertently eat honey before age one.
  • A third of moms (34%) say they use honey rarely or never; less than a quarter say they use it regularly (23%).
  • Moms are nearly as likely to think honey is a potential allergen as they are to identify its association with bacterial illness (36% avoid feeding infants honey because it's an allergen, 39% avoid due to its association with bacterial illness).
  • Only one percent of moms chose "risk of botulism" as a reason to avoid feeding infants honey.
  • 93% of moms would be more likely to use honey as a cough suppressant if their pediatrician's office suggested it (78% very or somewhat more likely).