May 05, 2020
Great idea of the hospitality industry to help out beekeepers thrive.
There has been a growing movement within the hospitality industry to use raw honey in menus. As we have covered before, many hotels and restaurants are now keeping hives to create honey they use on their food and cocktail menus. However, many other businesses are doing the same without using their own harvested honey. The honey they use, however, could help save the beekeeping and raw honey industry.
Harvesting Their Own Honey
We have reported numerous times on different restaurants and hotels that have had their respective chefs become part-time beekeepers. With the growing urban beekeeper movement, these hotels are joining and placing hives on their roofs. It makes for great conversation but also adds a local flavor to the menu when they use the honey harvested from their hives in their food and cocktail menus.
Raw Over Processed Honey
A sad reality in most hospitality operations is that when they use honey, it is often either “blended" honey or processed honey. Either way, it is far from being as beneficial as raw honey and is not nearly as flavorful. In essence, all they are doing when they use these honeys is dropping a load of flavored sugar into the recipe.
The challenge in using raw honey if an operation is not harvesting its own is the cost. A 12oz bottle of processed honey costs about $3 at the grocery store. A bottle of a nationally distributed “raw” honey is about double that. For some local beekeepers, who take the honey direct from the hive to bottling, charge about triple the price of that cute little bear you see in the grocery store. A 17oz jar of regular Manuka honey goes for about $40 and UMF+ honey goes for about $50 for less than nine ounces.
So, as you can see, for chefs looking to protect their food costs, raw or Manuka honey is unlikely to find its way into the picture. That, however, needs to change. If chefs and mixologists are putting out a better tasting product with better ingredients, they will be able to charge more. Think to yourself how much further you are willing to travel to your favorite bar or restaurant simply because that particular establishment makes something that tastes better than what everyone else is making. Do you even consider the price or do you just order these menu items knowing you are about to get something special? My guess is that you order, price be damned.
These costs can also be recovered on other items, such as slightly raising prices on different appetizers and salads. This type of pricing is known as lead loss. You take a hit on one item because pricing it at normal costs would make it unaffordable. In some cases, you even take a loss on it, but you continue to sell that item knowing that while you may be losing money or breaking even, that particular item brings more customers in that also order other items. This is why you see top-end steaks that cost restaurants $25 each sell for only $40 and a salad that cost about $1 to make sell for $8.50.
If the hospitality industry gets on board and the majority of locations use raw honey rather than processed or blended honey, it could be the boost beekeepers will need to keep their operations running and profitable during the current crisis honey bees are facing.
Photo By AnnaStills