Starting this Friday, March 17, Brazil will not be allowed to export honey to the European Union (EU). The bloc says Brazil needs to perform further quality control analysis on the product and that the country’s processes need to be similar to those performed in Europe.
According to the Director of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Odilson Ribeiro, Brazil already has its own control procedures, but the EU does not consider them equivalent to theirs.
Ribeiro said that the UN gave the Ministry a six-month deadline for restructuring its National Program of Residue Control in order to adapt to the EU export norms. The Director explains that what is going to be done is basically the analysis of the product as per the presence of some elements that may affect its quality, for example antibiotics and heavy metals, among others that require control.
According to Ribeiro, a plan containing information on the quality of the product has already been developed and is currently being implemented. The EU considers this information should have been sent to them earlier, however, Ribeiro emphasizes, the EU has never found any problem in the analysis it has made of Brazilian honey.
Honey from the Northeast region of Brazil is produced mainly through extractive processes. Thus, there is no risk of antibiotic contamination, Ribeiro explained. He added that producers from the states of Ceará and Piauí would be the most affected by the EU decision.
In order to minimize future problems, the Ministry of Agriculture intends to establish a few measures, such as look for new markets besides Europe; request these countries sanitary requirements; implement promotions of Brazilian honey; encourage obtention of product’s organic certification; give support to the associations of honey producers; and verify sanitary education programs.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the honey exported before this embargo will have no problem at EU market, because the European Commission approved the equivalence of Brazilian produced bovine, ovine, caprine, porcine, equine, poultry, aquaculture, and milk.
In 2005, Brazil exported 14.4 thousand tons of honey to the European Union, which represented an income of US$ 18.9 million.