Fert: What do you remember from these 17 days spent in France? What surprised you?
MH: I could meet several stakeholders of the French beekeeping sector: beekeepers, cooperatives and producers’ groups, trade unions, researchers and packers. To summarize this long trip and these numerous encounters, I found the French honey industry very organized with a diversity and complementarity of stakeholders from the hive to the consumer.
First, I was surprised by the similarity of problems faced by French beekeepers compared to Algerian beekeepers, i.e. unfair competition from imported honey, deterioration in the health of bee population and climate change.
I was also astonished by the ability of collective beekeeping structures, led by beekeepers, to sit around the table to analyze the difficulties and to imagine and implement solutions, and more specifically the importance of well-qualified animators whose role is to coordinate activities and support leaders in their missions.
On the technical level, I discovered and understood how several quality approaches had been implemented, via different quality signs from private label to PGI. This understanding was completed by my participation in control and analysis processes, among beekeepers and packers on the PGI “miel de Provence” and the brand “Gelée Royale Française”.
I note that these approaches and processes are demanding but remain within the reach of beekeepers. In addition, to work and raise consumers’ trust, quality approaches are based on the good will of the stakeholders, and in the first place, the beekeepers.