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.

University of California Economic Impact Report

The U.S. honey industry is thriving, according to a new study from the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. The study was directed by Dr. Daniel A. Sumner, an economist and director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, an institute which has studied the economic impacts* of many farm commodities.

Key findings include:

  • The U.S. honey industry was responsible for 22,000 jobs across the country in production, importation and packing in 2017.
  • The honey industry contributed approximately $2.1 billion in value added to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.
  • In 2017, Americans consumed 596 million pounds of honey, or about 1.82 pounds per person, which represents a 65 percent increase in consumption from 2009 to 2017.
  • The industry's total economic output* was $4.74 billion.

*Total economic output includes direct effect, such as workers hired to move beehives, indirect effect, like packaging supply companies for honey products, and induced effects, the wages honey industry workers spend as local businesses.

Click here to download the full Economic Impact Study.

Nielsen Category Review - 2018

This 2018 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 - 2018

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 2018 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

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

Some key findings include:

  • Unaided awareness of sweeteners across the category have declined. Usage of the historically dominant category leader, sugar, is curbing as consumers turn to alternatives. Sugar is still America's "favorite" sweetener, but Honey is ranked second. Among Natural Balancers, unaided awareness of honey as a sweetener remained stable at 22%, despite slips in awareness across the category. 
  • The number of consumers who say there is no acceptable substitute for honey has doubled since 2017 (7% to 13%), and honey is now the favorite sweetener (33%) among Natural Balancers. This is double the preference level for any other sweetener; white sugar declined by 17% points year over year.
  • Half of consumers consider honey to be a planned purchase with the intent of stocking up.  Compared to one year ago, honey as a staple has increased 12 percentage points as a stock-up item. Natural Balancers are much more likely to plan their honey purchase either as a staple on their shopping list (57%) or as a key ingredient for a meal or recipe (22%) versus the general population. 
  • A majority of Natural Balancers (58%) say they will eat more honey in the next year.  
  • Price is less of a barrier for the Natural Balancer, with 80% saying they will buy honey if price increases, and that is up over a year ago. 
  • One in four consumers is equally likely to recall a positive versus negative story about sweeteners; honey continues to be the most mentioned sweetener linked to a positive story. While consumers are increasing their usage of non-caloric sweeteners, they also report hearing negative stories about them. One out of ten consumers recalled a negative story about non-caloric sweeteners. Very few (about 2%) recall a negative honey story. 

Click here to download the full NHB U&A Study 2018 report.

New Product Introductions - 2018

The New Products report was conducted to baseline and identify new product launches in the US from January to December 2017 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:

  • Total new product introductions in the U.S. have appeared to level off after a 4 year growth period.
  • New products with honey represent a ~4% share of all new introductions in 2017. This is a +4% YOY growth from 2016, but has slowed down from 2014/2015 introductions. More honey products were launched in 2017 than in any previous year tracked.
  • Cereal and cereal bars as a category bounced back from declines in introductions in 2016 and are now on par with 2015 levels - the highest in a 6 year period. This category continues to own the largest share of new honey product introductions at 44%.
  • Both total bakery and honey introductions experienced growth in 2017. This is the second largest category for honey innovation, at 31% and frequently includes traditional baked goods (cakes, pies, and cookies), as well as 'baked snacks'.
  • Spreads reflect just under 7% of all new product launches with honey and this category is in the top 5 for honey innovation; however, new product launches have leveled out after reaching a peak in introductions in 2015.
  • Beverage innovation with honey has been stable; however, that was driven by cold beverages in 2017 vs. hot beverages in 2016. Cold beverages as a category have been experiencing declines over the past 3 years while hot beverages have experienced a 3 year growth period; albeit from a small base.
  • The alcoholic beverage category experienced its third consecutive year of growth in new product introductions. Honey represents a good size share of new products in this category at 7.3%.
  • The sugar and sweetener category, while a small base size overall, continues to remain flat. The number of honey products in this category slipped from previous years and is now on par with 2014 levels. We are starting to see some hybrid innovation, leveraging the benefits of honey combined with other better for you sweeteners.

Click here to download the full New Product Introductions report.

Datassential Menu Tracking Report - 2018

Often characterized as a sweetener, honey is increasingly recognized as a highly versatile, multifunctional ingredient, and has seen growth across all menu categories and dayparts year over year, according to a 2018 Datassential report. The research utilized Datassential’s Menutrends Metrics to track trends and honey mentions at 4,800 restaurants nationwide.
 
Key findings include:

  • Breakfast had the highest 4-year growth of all the dayparts with a 24% increase.
  • Beverages containing honey have experienced double-digit 4-year growth, with the average beverage menu (from a restaurant serving honey), featuring 2 beverages incorporating the ingredient.
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages have each seen a 45% growth over 4 years - the greatest uptick of all menu parts. Notably, honey-inspired non-alcoholic beverages were up 23% for the year (2017-2018).
  • Southern-inspired dishes with honey are trending and honey is appearing more frequently with savory dishes such as fried chicken, mac and cheese, and brussels sprouts.
  • Sriracha honey has seen the most explosive growth of all honey flavor combinations, up 401% over 4 years, and 54% for the year (2017-2018).
  • Spicy honey is up 45% since 2014.
  • Hot honey has also popped up on more menus, seeing a 54% growth over 4 years.
  • While they currently have low penetration, honey varietals such as Tupelo, Wildflower, Orange Blossom, and Acacia are appearing on more and more menus. 

To receive the full report, please email honey@nhb.org.

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.

Click here to download NHB U&A Study 2017

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 most 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.