The harvest of royal jelly has just begun in the Loire. In France, it complies with very strict specifications and the quantities far meet the demand, hence the high imports of products of Asian origin. But when there is fraud about the origin of the goods, the domestic beekeepers are worried.
The royal jelly harvest has just begun. For three months, beekeepers have been busy grafting, a small scam to get the bees to make more jelly. In nature, jelly is used to feed the queen throughout her life and is made only according to her needs.
For the production of royal jelly intended for sale, the beekeeper takes 3-day-old larvae from the hive, which he deposits in certain cells. The special organization of the hive means that the bees will raise these larvae as if they were queens, and for this fill all the surrounding cells with royal jelly, which they make from pollen and flower nectar. The beekeeper opens his hives every three days, takes samples and renews his strategy.
From about ten producers in the Loire 10 years ago, there are now only a handful of beekeepers making royal jelly. Gilles Deshors is one of them. He has just entered 3 months in the middle of the harvest period.
A meticulous, long, technical, completely manual work that must be performed with great care. It requires a lot of labor. Each cell is emptied of its substance with a mini vacuum cleaner. “The royal jelly is vacuumed and filtered at the same time”. Count 15 frames per. beehive for a maximum of 1 kilo of royal jelly throughout the harvest season (while you can give up to 40 kg of honey). A bulk kilo costs between 1,500 and 2,000 euros and 2,500 euros after packaging. Gilles’ balance is very precise. At this price, there is no question of making a difference.
Asia is a major producer and exporter of royal jelly. All these harvesting manipulations are performed mostly by machines and over a longer period of up to 10 months, which reduces the price significantly.
In France, the product is harvested over 3 months and can not be stored cool and protected from light for more than 18 months, whereas the foreign product is often frozen.
French beekeepers are aware that the market is too large for them and that it is impossible to do without imported royal jelly produced in France covering only 1 to 2% of demand. These imports take place in France on condition that they are sold in complete transparency as to origin, which is far from the case. Still, fraudsters risk up to 2 years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros.
Philippe Barrière has been a professional beekeeper for 30 years and chairman of the beekeeping section of FDSEA 42, Philippe Barrière has difficulty digesting the equivalent of deception under Article L441.1 of the Consumer Code. Claiming to sell a product made in France when it comes from abroad is a fraudulent trading practice, it is unfair and painful for the whole profession.
“It makes me angry! There are people who buy and get fooled. They may be hesitant to buy royal jelly later. It breaks trust“By projecting himself into the future, he fears that if local production increases, it cannot be sold for lack of trusted customers in the sector.
Laurent Bazin, department director for population protection, warns the consumer. “A product like royal jelly, produced in small quantities at extremely high cost, attracts unscrupulous people who want to make money by misleading the consumer about the origin of the product, hence the need for vigilance.“.
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