Honey Usage Increasing in Foodservice, Survey Confirms


FIRESTONE, Colo. – Honey usage is growing among foodservice operators, according to a just-released survey conducted by Technomic, Inc. on behalf of the National Honey Board. More than one in five Honey Trends Survey respondents (21 percent) expect to use more honey in 2011, and a resounding 99 percent expect to use as much or more honey next year as in 2010. New menu items (34 percent) and greater demand (22 percent) were cited as key factors for honey's growing usage.

Echoing the "buzz" in foodservice, honey was just named one of the top ten ingredients for 2011 by industry trend-watcher Andrew Freeman and his firm, Andrew Freeman & Co. "It is extremely gratifying to see honey increasingly recognized as the all-natural flavor enhancer and versatile ingredient we know it to be," says Emily Manelius, communications specialist with the National Honey Board.

Purchasing Preferences/Behaviors
Survey results show honey is a preferred sweetener, second only to sugar. Nine out of 10 operators purchase honey, and more than three-fourths (76 percent) purchase honey at least once a month. Broadline distributors are the primary honey source, cited by 79 percent of operators. Among commercial operators, 68 percent purchase their honey from broadline distributors, 14 percent from a club store/warehouse and 11 percent from a farmers market or local beekeeper. Non-commercial operators overwhelmingly cited broadline distributors as their honey source (84 percent), while 3 percent purchase honey from a club store/warehouse and 6 percent from a farmers market or local beekeeper.

Notably, customer demand and trends (82 percent) were only narrowly beat by cost (85 percent) in terms of their influence on sweetener purchasing decisions at foodservice. Sixty percent of operators indicated that purity/all natural attributes are extremely or very important when purchasing sweeteners, with wholesome image close behind at 56 percent. Most respondents (96 percent) were aware that honey is a natural ingredient. Nearly three in four (74 percent) knew that pure honey has only one ingredient. The remaining 26 percent incorrectly cited preservatives, water or sugar as other ingredients.

Despite honey's gains in foodservice, many respondents are not yet aware of some of honey's key properties and benefits. For example, fewer than half knew that honey has anti-microbial properties that can delay spoilage of many foods (44 percent); that honey can extend the shelf-life of baked goods (43 percent); and that it has pre- and pro-biotic characteristics when paired with yogurt (43 percent).

Foodservice Applications
According to the Honey Trends Survey, the current top uses for honey in foodservice are:

  • Ingredient for sauces, spreads or glazes (70 percent)
  • Barbecue or wing sauce (60 percent)
  • Single ingredient dipping sauce/spread (54 percent)
  • Ingredient in bakery items (52 percent)
  • Salad dressing ingredient (48 percent)
  • Meat or seafood glaze (47 percent)
  • Compound butter/honey butter (41 percent)

Other notable applications include beverages (21 percent), smoothies (19 percent), yogurt parfaits (18 percent), pizza dough ingredient (9 percent) and cheese plate accompaniment (9 percent).

Honey Trends Survey
The Honey Trends Survey was conducted by Technomic, Inc. in Fall 2010 among some 600 foodservice operators (approximately 40 percent commercial and 60 percent non-commercial). Online interviews were designed to gauge honey attitude, purchase and usage trends; awareness of honey's unique properties and characteristics; and overall preferences for sweeteners and pure and natural ingredients.

National Honey Board
The National Honey Board is a federal research and promotion board under USDA oversight that conducts research, marketing and promotion programs to help maintain and expand markets for honey and honey products. These programs are funded by an assessment of one cent per pound on domestic and imported honey.

Name: Andrea Schepke

Phone: (805) 358-8801

Email: [email protected]