Dabur and Patanjali on Wednesday questioned environment watchdog CSE’s claims that honey sold by them are adulterated with sugar syrup, saying that it seems to be motivated and aimed at maligning their brands. They also insisted that honey sold by them are collected naturally from Indian sources, and packed with no-added sugar or other adulterants.
Moreover, norms and parameters laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for testing honey are fully adhered to, according to the companies. “The recent reports seem motivated and aimed at maligning our brand. We assure our consumers that Dabur Honey is 100 per cent pure and indigenous, collected naturally from Indian sources and packed with no added sugar or other adulterants,” a Dabur spokesperson said.
Patanjali Ayurved’s Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna said, “it seems to be a plot to defame Indian natural honey industry and manufacturers in a bid to promote processed honey”. This is a “gameplan to replace lakhs of rural farmers and honey growers including Khadi & Village commission channel” with processed/ artificial/ value-added honey makers, he said.
While noting that honey-making is a heavy capital and machinery-driven industry, Balkrishna said, “we make 100 per cent natural honey which tested pure on more than 100 standards laid down by the FSSAI for honey”. Kolkata-based Emami group, which owns the Zandu brand, said it adheres to all the protocols laid down by the FSSAI in this regard.
“Emami as a responsible organisation ensures that its Zandu Pure Honey conforms and adheres to all the protocols and quality norms/ standards laid down by the Government of India and is authorised entities such as the FSSAI,” an Emami spokesperson said. On Wednesday, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claimed honey sold by several major brands in India has been found adulterated with sugar syrup.
In its study, the CSE also mentioned the brands sold by the three companies. The CSE’s food researchers selected 13 top and smaller brands of processed and raw honey being sold in India to check their purity. They found 77 per cent of the samples adulterated with the addition of sugar syrup. Out of the 22 samples checked, only five passed all the tests.
“Honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya, all failed the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test,” the study said. Meanwhile, the Dabur spokesperson said that it regularly test the honey sold by the company in the Indian market. Besides, Dabur Honey is also tested for the presence of antibiotics, as mandated by FSSAI, he added.
“Dabur is the only company in India to have an NMR testing equipment in our own laboratory, and the same is used to regularly test our honey being sold in the Indian market. This is to ensure that Dabur Honey is 100 per cent pure without any adulteration,” the spokesperson emphasised. According to him, Dabur does not import any honey/ syrup from China and that its honey is sourced entirely from Indian beekeepers.
“Dabur is complying with the 22 parameters… mandated by the FSSAI for testing honey. In addition, Dabur Honey is also tested for the presence of antibiotics, as mandated by the FSSAI,” the spokesperson said. Balkrishna also termed the study as an “an attempt to lower down the market share of Indian honey in international trade”.
India exported 59,536.75 MT of natural honey worth Rs 633.82 crore (USD 88.65 million) in FY 2019-20 to various countries, including the US, Saudi Arab, UAE, Canada, Qatar, as per data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The APEDA comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
According to Expert Market Research, the India honey market was worth around Rs 1,729 crore in 2019. “The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of about 10 per cent between 2020 and 2025 to reach a value of nearly INR 30.6 billion by 2025,” it said.