How To Buy Honey In Bulk [Buyer's Guide]


9 minute read

Essential Takeaways

Which type of honey you should buy depends on what you intend to use it for. Several other factors will also influence your honey purchase, including: how much you want, how much you want to spend, and what variety and grade suits your purpose.

Make sure you’re sourcing real honey, by researching your supplier’s accreditations, knowing that it’s not watered down or mixed with additives, and checking that certifications are verifiable. Transparency is key.

When buying honey internationally, it’s imperative to know what your own country’s import restrictions are. Make your requirements clear to your supplier at the start of negotiating a bulk purchase.

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The global market value of honey sits at over $7 billion USD.

Like the sticky golden stuff itself, that’s pretty sweet.

But buying genuine bulk honey isn’t always straightforward. There are lots of fakes out there.

If you’re wondering about the potential in bulk buying honey and how to do it, you’re in the right place.

In this guide to bulk buying honey, we’ll walk you through:

  • What you should know before you buy honey in bulk
  • A checklist of things to keep in mind before you bulk buy honey
  • Where you can source bulk honey from
  • How to choose the best quality honey for your needs
  • Top tips for buying honey in bulk
  • FAQs

Let’s delve in.

What Should You Know Before Buying Honey In Bulk?

The purpose that you’re planning to use the honey for should guide your choices around varieties and quantities.

For example, if you’re selling honey for consumption as food, you may want to think about flavours. In that case, choose between some New Zealand favourites: beechwood, kamahi, rata, rewarewa, and of course manuka honey.

If you’re selling for cosmetic or medicinal purposes, this may warrant a different set of priorities.

Like, for example, the research into how the various types perform.

We explore on our blog how and why people can use manuka honey for different reasons, including when UMF™ gradings matter in each circumstance.

This way, our customers know what they should be looking for based on their goals for the honey.

But this is only your first step.

10 Things To Consider When Bulk Buying Honey

Once you’re clear on which honey varietal(s) you want to sell, there are a few more crucial elements you’ll want to consider in your search for the right supplier.

Ask yourself these questions as you research:

1. Consider your budget. How much are you willing to spend?

One thing that may influence the cost of buying honey in bulk is whether you purchase it retail or wholesale.

You’re likely to pay much more at retail.

But if you buy directly from a wholesale or a bulk supplier, such as us, you may get a better deal and tailored services, with potentially fewer headaches!

Bulk honey is often priced per kilogram. So, when shopping around, be sure to ask for the kilo price. Any additional costs - like freight - should be itemised and quoted separately.

Action it: Think about how much you want to spend on honey before starting any research. It might rule out a few options straight away and make your decisions easier.

2. How much honey do you need to buy? 

As you might expect, for most bulk suppliers, pricing structures vary based on quantities.

Honey is generally stored in 300 kilogram barrels (approximately 661 pounds).

Therefore, it’s easier for suppliers if you buy 300 kilograms and they don’t need to measure it out in smaller containers. For this reason, many suppliers have a minimum order quantity of 300 kilograms - i.e. one barrel of one honey variety.

Other suppliers might charge a premium if you want a smaller amount, as they have more costs for labour and packaging.

It’s mostly best to order greater quantities less often to get the best price, and negotiate if your quantities increase over time.

Action it: Talk to us about your quantity needs.

3. What variety and grade of honey do you need?

Different varieties of honey might have grades within them that impact the price. Once you know the type you’re after, consider which grade you want to offer or purchase (if not all of them).

Manuka honey is often graded according to its MGO (Methylglyoxal) content, but can also be certified and graded by the UMFHA.

In order to state the UMF™ grading on your honey labels, you must be a member of the UMFHA. Unlike meeting government standards, being a member of the UMFHA is not required, but it does certify authenticity and quality of your manuka honey.

You may not need to buy and sell the highest grade. It all depends on your goals for the end product and type of consumer you’re targeting.

Read more: How Much UMF™ Is Enough?

4. Would you prefer to source your honey from one, or several suppliers? 

If you’re looking for convenience over legwork, dealing with a single supplier who can source all of your honey may be best.

We not only sell Manuka Honey in jars, but all New Zealand honey varieties in bulk.

Action it: Ask your potential supplier/s what their wider range looks like, and if they can source other products for you.

5. Is the supplier selling a certified product that is real honey?

There’s a lot of counterfeit honey around.

Whatever your reason for selling it, you’ll want the real stuff.

So it’s best to be able to trace the source of your honey to make sure it’s real and unadulterated.

The FDA has strict guidelines for food labelling that includes honey. A product may not be called ‘honey’ unless it has met these.

Similarly in New Zealand, exported manuka honey must meet certain standards before it can be labelled as such.

Action it: Find out what the local certifications and regulations are in the country that you’re exporting from, and ask to see proof of these. You can check our accreditations here.

6. Has the honey been mixed with additives?

Some honey suppliers mix additives such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), other sugars and even water into batches of honey.

These additives may detract from the beneficial properties of the honey, and in some cases, render it fake.

The best way to identify real honey is to purchase it from a reputable supplier that can guarantee its source and production methods.

Action it: Ask for proof of manufacturing processes, test results, and transparency about where the honey comes from.

7. Is one processing method best (e.g. raw, unfiltered, filtered, organic)?

Some research indicates that raw honey contains greater amounts of beneficial compounds that may be reduced in pasteurised or filtered honey.

If you want to sell honey for health purposes, raw is probably best. However, if you’re looking to use manuka honey for medicinal purposes, check that it has been processed appropriately for your intended use.

But beware. It’s actually really difficult, for example, to certify honey as organic. This is because bees forage among thousands of plants, over vast areas.

Beekeepers cannot control their movements or ensure that they are collecting nectar from only organically-grown plants.

If you want the most natural product possible, stick to sourcing honey from remote areas that are largely unaffected by human activity, as far as possible.

It’s best to read up on these separately to decide on the type you want to offer.

Read more: What's The Deal With Organic Honey?

8. Do you want GMO-free honey? 

There is some controversy around genetically-modified (GMO) foods.

Although mainstream science generally debunks fears around GMO, many people may still feel more comfortable using food products that are completely natural.

In fact, some countries have very strict regulations around GMO labelling on foodstuffs, so you may be able to find out quite easily if the area and supplier you have selected is selling GMO-free honey, if this appeals to you.

Although we are non-GMO certified by the Non-GMO Project, we cannot pass these credentials directly on to you as a wholesaler. In order to make the claim of selling Non-GMO honey, your business must also be certified.

Similarly, we also hold Kosher, Halal, and Glyphosate free certifications. Anyone that buys our honey needs to hold these credentials as well in order to make that claim for honey packaged under a different brand name.

Retailers that buy and resell a finished product that has been packaged and labelled under our own brand, can make claims about the credentials of the product without holding the certifications themselves.

Action it: You’ll need to find out whether the honey’s country of origin requires its suppliers to provide GMO labels. They may need a license to show they are GMO-free.

9. Does your government, or the government of your supplier have any import or export restrictions for honey?

Each country has specific regulations for food imports and exports.

If you’re looking to buy bulk honey offshore, we strongly recommend you find out what the import regulations are of your own country, before purchasing.

This is to avoid the disaster of buying honey in bulk that you then aren’t able to import!

It’s best to provide your full list of requirements when talking to suppliers, to make sure that they’re able to produce certain tests and certifications that will satisfy your requirements.

These costs may be quoted and passed on to you if they’re not standard, and at this point, you can choose to go ahead or purchase somewhere else.

New Zealand, for example, has strict regulations that honey exporters must adhere to, which protects suppliers and buyers.

It also has strict regulations for importing honey. These regulations protect consumers and ensure ethics in the industry.

Action it: Be clear on where your honey is coming from and what the requirements are, both of the origin country and of your own. If you’re unsure, just ask.

10. How do you want your bulk honey to be packaged, handled and shipped?

Your supplier relationships and preferences don’t end with the buy button.

Think about packaging: do you want it individually packaged into jars and labelled, or raw and unpackaged in barrels, ready for you to fill into jars?

Once again, this will depend on how you want to sell your product.

If choosing the jars option, it’s good to know that any honey jars packaged and labelled in New Zealand must meet the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code regardless of where they’re going to be sold. Suppliers are required to audit labels and keep records.

It can be advantageous for bulk-buying customers to label the honey in their own country to avoid this extra level of compliance, but we recommend that you do more of your own research.

Action it: With your quotes, ask suppliers how they ship their products, and whether they can customize this based on your preferences. We can provide custom solutions for your bulk honey needs - check out more information here.

Tips For Sourcing Honey in Bulk

Now that you have some ideas about your bulk honey needs, let’s discuss where you can source honey in bulk.

Location, location, location

Honey is produced all over the world, in many different varieties.

The flora of the area where honeybees forage determines the variety. Each variety may have a unique flavour, colour and consistency.  

If you have a preference for a certain variety of honey to suit your needs, then this could narrow your search for a supplier.

Should you buy local honey?

There are benefits to purchasing your honey from a local beekeeper: it can be easier to communicate with someone in a familiar territory, and you may even be able to inspect the hives and the environment the bees live in.

The environmental benefit of sourcing locally is that less resources are expended on transport, but you may face limitations in terms of varieties and volume, depending on what you need it for.

The disadvantage of buying local honey might be the lack of established testing and certification available. When buying honey from New Zealand, you can rest assured that every drop of exported honey has proven provenance and eligibility for export.

On top of that, it’s illegal to import honey into New Zealand, so the risk of mixing barrels from around the globe is nil.

What about buying imported honey?

Many countries export honey to the rest of the world.

Two of the highest volume exporters are China and New Zealand.

New Zealand is a remote, highly biodiverse country where there is abundant flora growing in unspoilt conditions - perfect for honeybee foraging.

And the extremely strict regulations around exported NZ honey (imposed by the Ministry for Primary Industries) is great news for honey consumers.

Wherever you choose to source your honey, the most important thing is to ensure that it’s properly certified, you have proof of its origins, and you trust the company you’re buying it from.

Ensuring You Get Only The Best

Here’s a quick review of what you should be looking for to ensure quality, and an overview of some of the gradings you might encounter in your search for a supplier.

Indicators of good quality honey:

  • It is certified by a trusted independent body.
  • Its entire process can be traced back to the source.
  • It has been produced in a country with strict regulations around labelling and manufacture.

Honey gradings

There are different methods used to grade honey.

For example, the US Department of Agriculture has a grading system that involves checking visual aspects of honey for quality, and then rating the honey on an alphabetical scale:

These are rated as: U.S. Grade A, Grade B, Grade C and Substandard.  

Grade A is regarded as the best grade of honey.

In New Zealand, all manuka honey needs to meet government standards to be able to be labelled as such.

If the manufacturer wants to assure quality within that manuka honey family, they can opt for the more rigorous UMF™ grade testing, but this is optional.

If you want to buy manuka honey in bulk, you should seek out a supplier that is a member of the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA). This will provide you with confidence that the honey they sell under their own brand is held to the highest standards.

Whichever honey type you’re buying, make sure you understand what the official tests and gradings mean (where applicable).

To Summarize

Let’s summarize your buying strategy:

  1. Be clear about the type of honey you need in bulk.
  2. If you’re looking for the least contaminated, most quality-assured honey, then order it from a supplier in a country that has strict regulations around honey safety and purity - such as New Zealand.
  3. Decide which (if any) honey grading system you want to use.
  4. Check international trade and foodstuffs regulations to find out how they may affect your honey purchase.
  5. Find out about the ethics and operations of the supplier you’re ordering from.
  6. Match your budget to the highest grade honey you want to buy.
  7. Make your purchase and start the relationship.

Source Your Bulk Honey From New Zealand Honey Co.

We have access to some of the highest quality manuka honey and New Zealand honey varieties from across the country.

Our national and international customers trust that our certifications are the top in the business.

Find out more about buying through us below:

Your wellness journey starts with a spoonful a day.


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