Raising the bar of Ethiopian honey

To many consumers, honey is a natural and healthy alternative to sugar. Honey is on the market as table honey and also as a food ingredient, for example in sweets such as liquorice or in bakery products. Beeswax is also used in cosmetic products such as creams and lip balm. But because the bee population is decreasing globally, there aren’t sufficient supplies of honey to meet demand in Europe. Imports from developing countries are growing. Whilst Ethiopia has a strong tradition of producing honey, the country was not yet on the map of European importers. The quality of Ethiopian honey was still too low and entrepreneurship needed to increase.

“I have just exported my first container of honey! I set up my company only a few years ago. Kasper of ProFound supported me throughout our development. He helped me to develop my export marketing strategy and exhibit at the Biofach trade fair.”

Samuel Woldekidan (Yerkisho Honey and Wax Trading)

From Ethiopian forests to the global market

In Ethiopia honey is used in honey wine, or “Tej”, a national drink.  Keeping honey bees offers additional income to farmers. This is important in Ethiopia’s rural areas, where farmers can combine keeping honey bees with other agricultural activities. For example, some are also growing coffee. Honey bees can also forage in Ethiopia’s wild areas, such as forests or dry lands, giving communities incentives to protect these areas and not exploit them for fire wood. For ProFound this offers a strong basis to build capacities of the Ethiopian honey sector in order to supply international markets with sustainable, organically certified honey.

“With the support of ProFound we know how to facilitate poor beekeepers in Ethiopia to access sustainable markets for their honey. ProFound helped us to develop the honey value chain by improving the partnerships between our Ethiopian honey processors and international buyers. Their knowledge on the international honey market and the requirements such as food safety management give us a clear direction for our strategy on honey value chain development.”

– Yetnayet Girmaw (SNV Ethiopia)

Seven Ethiopian entrepreneurs now market organic honey

ProFound developed sustainable value chains for organic honey with seven Ethiopian entrepreneurs who are processing and marketing honey.

  • ProFound works as part of the Aspire project, funded by the Dutch embassy in Ethiopia. The project includes a train-the-trainer activity to reach out to 30,000 beekeepers; quality and business training and coaching of entrepreneurs; access to finance for beekeepers (new hives) and companies (training of beekeepers, machines, working capital); and international market access for selected entrepreneurs.
  • More specifically, ProFound ensures that the companies and beekeepers supplying them work according to buyer requirements; with a strong focus on quality and certification of honey. ProFound also connects the companies to buyers in Europe.
  • Key results of the project include:
    • Improved incomes for a higher number of beekeepers.
    • Higher incomes for entrepreneurs exporting honey.
    • Increased awareness of organic agriculture in Ethiopia and of the Ethiopian organic sector in Europe.

“ProFound showed me the potential of Ethiopia as a source of honey for the French market. Kasper of ProFound also helps me to communicate with the Ethiopian exporters and understand their challenges by providing updates and explanations. I am sure that the exporters will manage to send us their honey with his and our help.”
– Nicolas Couture (Famille Michaud, Purchasing)

ProFound Solutions towards sustainable organic honey value chains

  • Market Analysis: on the European and the Ethiopian honey market
  • Business Planning: company audits to identify gaps between company capacities and buyer expections on the European market.
  • Technical input to beekeeper training programmes and training to entrepreneurs on issues such as buyer requirements, food safety, marketing and supply chain management.
  • Provide entrepreneurs with tools to develop a market entry strategy and translate these into action plans to improve their supply chain, product and quality management system.
  • Support entrepreneurs with certification according to organic standards.
  • Market Access: Bringing companies to trade fairs (BioFach in Nurnberg, Germany for organic producers and GulFood in Dubai) and arrange matches with European buyers.
  • Rural Finance: identify finance needs, for appropriate technology and in terms of working and investment capital