Packaging Sweetens Honey Purchase

The market of Gojam Berenda, which is located within the biggest market place, Merkato, is well known for its varied supply of honey and butter. The usual way of supplying and retailing honey was until recently, done through farmers who came from long distances, especially rural cities, carrying honey in large sacks. However, recently, the manner in which honey is supplied and sold is changing with the coming of a norm in which the honeycombs are packaged in plastic.

Habtamu Eyasu is one of the wholesalers and retailers at Gojam Berenda. He has been in the business of honey for the last 30 years with his business address in Addis Abeba. He said that the trend of selling honey with the plastic packaging has come recently due to the ease with which it can be done. The previous way of retailing honey had disadvantages in terms of usage and sanitation.

“The changing economic stance and life style of people has forced us to pack our honey products in an easier and simpler way,” Habtamu explained.

Zelalem Taddele is the owner of Taddele Temesgen Honey and Butter Wholesaler and Retailer in the Meskel Flower area. His shop carries honey in different kinds of packages at different weights such as half kilo, one kilo, one and half killo and 10 kilos. Sometimes the customers themselves may even order the honey packages in larger sizes.

But a few years ago, Taddele used to sell wholesale and retail honey without packing it.

“Most of my customers began to request packaged honey. Therefore, I had to change the way I conducted my wholesale and retail business by changing from unpackaged to packaged honey because of the demand and packaged honey is very convenient to use,” Zelalem told Fortune.

One of his customers, Lili Sheferaw, is happier with the packaged honey she buys from him as she finds it easier to manage, avoiding the mess and the waste in transferring unpackaged honey to a proper container.

The kind of honey at the market varies depending on its origin and type. The honey in the Addis Abeba market originates from such places as Tigray, Gojam, Jimma, Gonder, Wollega and Sidamo. There are white, red, black and yellow varieties.

White honey from Tigray has the highest demand on the market, according to the traders; it is also the most expensive, with about 200 Br a kilo. Yellow honey from the same region sells for a little over a third of this price. White honey from Sidamo sells for a little over 100 Br. Honey originating from Gonder and Gojam is most preferred for making traditional liquor locally known as Tej (honey mead) and is sold at an average price of 80 Br.

The price of honey also fluctuates based on the season. Between October and December, the price of honey decreases because of the higher production. But beginning in February, the price of honey starts to rise because of the lower production.

Shifa Ahmed Honey and Butter is a wholesaler and retailer of Gojam honey. He sells only Gojam honey. His customers mostly consist of people engaged in the making of Tej. Red honey is mostly demanded for Tej. However, unlike most of his fellow wholesalers and retailers, he sells his products without pre-packing. He has packaging jars available, which he provides on demand, instead of pre-packaging the honey.

The honey comes to the market of Addis through regional retailers who purchase them from farmers in their regions. The regional retailers and wholesalers come to the capital on their own and they sell their honey directly to the wholesalers in the capital.

However, these regional wholesalers do not bring the honey already packaged. Rather, the honey is packed by the wholesalers in the capital. The items bought and used for the packing of honey are plastic jars and bags fabricated at local factories. Their price ranges from four to five Birr per bag.

Packaged honey sometimes even contains the label of the retailer. Honey packed at Habtamu’s shop contains the trade name, “Habtamu Eyasu pure honey wholesaler and retailer”. “This shows that there is a trade competition among the wholesalers and retailers of honey, which forces me to post my name in my honey packages as well,” said Habtamu.


Published on April 20, 2015 [ Vol 15 ,No 781]



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