Havana Cuba Business

Preparing for post-Embargo post-Castro opportunities in Cuba


Cuba Consulting Report

Exporting Cuban Honey

This is a sample report from early 2011. Information regarding Cuban honey experts, export contacts in Cuba and other details have been removed for this public posting.

1) General information
2) Situation Environment – statistics and quality
3) Resellers and Pricing
4) Exporting (Contacts and process)

1. General information

The brand name of Cuban honey is Apisun - Meil de Cuba as you can see in this photo http://cubanhoney.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/olympic-stamp-256.jpg 
From 2004 Cuban Honey Gains Ground in World Market from http://cubanhoney.weebly.com 

Our nectar comes from flowers that are pesticide and insecticide free. This honey has a high nutrition value, delicious aroma and taste that satisfy the most demanding consumers. For the true honey lovers Cuban polyfloral honey floats off your tongue leaving you to savor its subtle, yet rich, tropical essence.

From Juventudrebelde.co.cu dated March 17, 2009
By: Dora Pérez Sáez at digital@jrebelde.cip.cu 

Cuba expanding organic honey industry
Expanding Cuba’s organic honey industry was one of the main topics at the recently concluded Third National Conference on Apiculture.

“Cuba is set to sell nearly 1,000 tons of organic honey on the international market,” said Alberto Bahamonde, a representative from BCS Okö Garantie, the German company in charge of the organic certification of honey producers across the island.
Bahamonde said that Cuba could boost its organic honey production to 1,500 tons. “Last year we exported 826 tons despite the damage caused by three hurricanes that ravaged the eastern mountainous areas, the largest organic honey producing region,” said Bahamonde.

“There are more than 470 producers, 900 apiaries, and nearly 3,000 beehives certified as organic, and we hope to increase these numbers. Currently, we are working to certify two farms in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Sancti Spíritus.”

And December 28, 2010
Cuban Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez said the government will grant loans to cooperatives in an effort to increase the production of coffee, cocoa and honey, which at the moment are bought in the international market.

During the second meeting of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) Rodriguez explained that 244 agricultural cooperatives will take part in this initiative, and that they will receive a commercial loan, which the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture will pay gradually with more coffee, cocoa and honey.
ANAP president Orlando Lugo, noted the importance of investing in high yield areas.

Cuban Local Beekeepers Obtain High Volumes of Honey
CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, Aug 27 2010 (acn) Beekeepers in coastal areas of the province of Ciego de Avila contributed more than US$100,000 to the Cuban economy in the period from June to the present with the collection of 50 tons of honey.

Such production was achieved after placing some 2,000 beehives in areas of the south and north coast of the province, according to Vladimir Echemendia, director of the beekeeping unit in the province.

The strategy was grounded on the fact that bees can extract larger amounts of pollen from flowering plants that bloom in those areas this time of the year.

The tactic of moving apiaries from their places of origin to the coast was also due to the deficit of flowers in areas that had traditionally been a source of high volumes of nectars.

According to Echemendia, since 2008, when the island was hit by three major hurricanes, the wet season has been affected by droughts, high temperatures and other climate factors.

He said adverse weather conditions have caused among other consequences a late blooming, this year and in 2009, of the purple and white bellflower which provide the largest amounts of pollen in the island.

The apiaries located in the Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo keys, Turigano Island and woods of the coastal municipality of Venezuela will be left there until the end of the month.

More than 2,300 queen bees were reproduced in a Ciego de Avila-based genetic center. These bees are used in the province and other regions of the country.

Discussion thread about Cuban honey at trip advisor and this thread about a Cuban beekeeper here 

Cuban Central Province Increases Honey Production
SANTA CLARA, Cuba, Mar 14 2010 (acn) By the end of February, apiarists from the central Cuban province of Villa Clara exceeded the amount of honey collected last year, in that same period, by 76 tons.

According to the director of the apiculture enterprise in the province, Adelfo Sosa, the increase was the result of several changes such as the replacement of 60 percent of queen bees, the increase of beehives in the apiaries and the improvement in the handling of insects.

Sosa noted that these results will contribute to meeting the plan of the present year, which rises up to 810 tons, with more than 15,000 beehives, and 71 apiarists in Villa Clara.

He mentioned that there are five centers in the province for raising queen bees, which annually accounts for replacing more than 75 percent of honeycombs, as established by normative techniques to avoid diseases.

Apiarist Ramon Marrero, the best producer in the province during the last harvest, explained that systematicity and strict compliance to the technical norms is the key of success in apiculture.
Marrero affirmed that in order to avoid infestation by mites like Varroa, working bees have to be directly observed so as to detect on time any symptoms of the disease and prevent contagion.

And Pinar del Río, Cuba, June 7 2011
Cuban scientists have extended their research to the abundant and diverse honey bearing flora of the Guanahacabibes peninsula with varieties favored in conservation projects of this Biosphere Reserve.
Specialists of the Casa de la Miel, which is unique in Cuba, lead these studies in a region noted for its rich honey tradition that goes back to colonial times.

The region also known as El Cabo (the Cape) has over a hundred honey bearing species that are free of contamination due to their location in a maximum preservation zone, Lazaro Marquez, director of the Guanahacabibes National Park, told Prensa Latina.

He added that they dream of being able to label the honey from this region with its place of origin or trademark for commercial purposes. He considers that it is an exclusive product, obtained in a highly conserved area that has the largest forest reserve in the island.

The Casa de la Miel is a peculiar space that overflows the building's walls to promote research projects on local vegetation.
The museum exhibits articles used in apiculture that include a collection of equipment and tools used in harvesting the hives.
The institution also honors the legacy of Francisco "Fico" Varela, an emblematic figure in apiculture culture in this habitat that is one of last jungles in the Caribbean.

Situated in the western tip of the archipelago, the site is home to seven species of sea turtles, as well as migratory birds, iguanas, deer and hutias (Capromyidae).

This privileged area that has recovered from devastating hurricanes has highly exceptional beehives, explained Marquez.

From greenplanet.net
Cuba announced that its organic honey production is going to increase. According to forecasts, the Country may manage to export into main international markets an average volume of 1,000 tons per year, Ecoalimenta.com website reported.

This realistic scenario has been depicted by Alberto Bahamonde Fernández, spokeperson of BCS Okö Garantie - the German certification organization that manages the product's accreditation in Cuba - on occasion of the third Cuban Congress on Apiculture. According to Bahamonde Fernández, Cuba appears to have the potential to reach a yield of 1,500 tons per year.

"Last year 826 tons of honey have been exported, despite the damages provoked by three hurricanes in mountain areas in the Eastern part of the Country, where the main production region is concentrated", Bahamonde explained.

Beekeeping in Cuba means now more than 470 producers, 900 apiaries and hives, of which about a third are certified as organic. The next challenge for Cuban producers is to get the certification also for productions in Santiago de Cuba and Sancti Spiritus.

And Santiago de Cuba, June 16, 2010
Around 791 tons of honey have been produced for exportation in the Cuban eastern provinces so far this year. This is an improvement in the output of this important commodity.

Manuel Vazquez, beekeeping director in the province of Santiago de Cuba, declared to the CNA that honey export meets 82 percent of their goal, although production has been affected by the drought in the Cuban east.

By the end of May the Santiago de Cuba territory produced around 137 tons of honey, it represents 80 percent of the current plan. Guantanamo is the only province that met its plan, Vazquez expressed.

Also there are projects of increasing the beehives to meet the production plans, especially in the last quarter of the year.
During the summer and intense drought the period of famine is superior due to low blooming, that is why one of the viable options consists of stimulating the beehives with syrup of sugar, an alternative that is effective up to some extent.

Edilberto Lopez, a Santiago de Cuba beekeeper, recognized that in spite of the problems, they work at the moment in the sows of mellifluous fruit-bearing plants and nurseries, what will guarantee in a future that areas with low potential could increase their production.

Mr. Vazquez pointed out that in May there was a productive recovery in relation to honey, fundamentally after the rains, although they are not enough yet.

The municipalities of Guama, Contramaestre, Tercer Frente and Palma Soriano are the most outstanding according to their results in honey production. (Source: Juventud Rebelde)

Old information - Even though this information is related to pre-Castro Cuba, it may offer an insight into what might be relevant in a post-Castro, free market Cuba:

From US Department of Agriculture: Chemical Analysis and Composition of Imported Honey from Cuba, Mexico and Haiti dated 1912.

2. Situation Environment – statistics and quality

Residues control in Cuban Honey http://www.apimondia.com/apiacta/articles/2003/pineiro.pdf 
Four pages from Estacion Experimental Apicola dated 2003 stating information such as 1720 beekeepers in Cuba and that the highest harvest is from September to February. Also…
• historic production and yield
• laws
• chemicals to fight bee diseases
• inspections
• quality control

From http://cubanhoney.weebly.com 
All honey is subject to systematic laboratory analysis and inspections to warrant and verify composition and quality factors together with a biological control system that guarantees the product’s veterinary certification in all the stages. All honey lots are certified by Honey Lab of Bremen (QSI) in Germany in a way to have a safe and continuous quality control certification of Cuban honey.

Honey Lab of Bremen website is http://www.qsi-q3.de 
Export Quantity of Natural honey in Cuba - 1961-2008 http://data.mongabay.com/commodities/category/2-Trade/8-Crops+and+Livestock+Products/1182-Natural+honey/91-Export+Quantity/49-Cuba 

The table and graph data comes from the FAOSTAT database produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Import Value of Natural honey in Cuba - 1961-2008 http://data.mongabay.com/commodities/category/2-Trade/8-Crops+and+Livestock+Products/1182-Natural+honey/62-Import+Value/49-Cuba

Ministry of Agriculture

Agencia de Información y Comunicación para la Agricultura de Cuba
Ave. Boyeros y Conill, Edif. MINAG, Plaza, Ciudad de La Habana 10600, Cuba

Phone: (537)884-5427; Fax: (537)881-2837 gestion@agrinfor.cu 

The Ministry of Agriculture is the body responsible for directing, implementing – within its jurisdiction – and monitoring state and government policy related to:

• The use, conservation and improvement of land used for cultivation and the ownership and possession of agriculture and forestry land
• Plant Health
• Veterinary medicine
• The conservation, management, rational use and sustainable development of forest resources and the country's wild flora and fauna
• The protection and growth of the country’s cattle stocks
• The mechanization and irrigation of production programs within its jurisdiction
• The production of agricultural crops other than sugar cane, livestock and forestry
• The cultivation and production of rice, tobacco, citrus fruits, apicultural products, poultry, feed, forestry products, and others for which it is given responsibility by the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers
• The harvesting and use of agricultural and forestry product

3. Resellers and Pricing

From http://cubanhoney.weebly.com 
Form at bottom of page states “If you are interested in redistributing or reselling Cuban honey in your area please contact us using form below”.

There is only the contact form on the site. I checked the page source to see if there was an email address under the form but there was not. The whois information is for weebly.com so at this time, I could not determine the owner of the site.

An online retailer here http://day.cuba-lounge.com/read/products/show/2211347/honey 
This site from Toronto says “I am looking for new partners, distributors and customers. I am selling Cuban Honey all across the Canada. I would be more than happy for your comments.” http://cubanhoney.blogspot.com/ and their facebook page is here http://www.facebook.com/cuban.honey and their twitter page is here http://twitter.com/#!/Cuban_Honey . Apparently this person’s name is Serg as seen from a comment he left about Cuban honey “ The Cuban honey is natural and pure is no doubt. I am importing and distributing Cuban honey in Canada.

All honey is subject to systematic laboratory analysis and inspections to warrant and verify composition and quality factors together with a biological control system that guarantees the product’s veterinary certification in all the stages. All honey lots are certified by Honey Lab of Bremen (QSI) in Germany in a way to have a safe and continuous quality control certification of Cuban honey.

My Cuban honey was laboratory tested by Canada Food Inspection Agency and has satisfactory results. Comment by Serg | August 9, 2010

Etco International Commodities
2nd Floor,
Cooper House
316 Regents Park Road
London N3 2JX

Tel: 020 8371 8800
Fax: 020 8371 8850

E-mail: etco@etco.co.uk 
Contact: Mrs Tamara Valdes

Type of Business: Agent/importer for Cuban Honey. Importer for other origins.
Products available: Cuban Honey (in bulk and bottled) and other origins

Consult Management Know How Company

By Phone in Cuba 53 7 836 88 91
By Phone from another country -> International Code + 33 6 74 08 787 48

By sea: One 20 feet container, approximately 20 Pallets (1250 boxes)
Sales Terms : FOB Habana Port or FCA José Martí airport

Lax-Gha Cuba

Lax Gha Cuba is a company dedicated to import, export and international trading, specialized in import and export from Cuba to the whole world.

CUBAN HONEY: Extra quality Cuban honey. 100% natural. Packed in glass jars of 300 and 500gr, plastic dispensers of 340gr, plastic kegs of 14 and 25kg, and steel drums of 300kg.
General Manager : ROBERTO E.ARANGO NIEBLA lax_ghacuba_roberto@yahoo.es 

JULIO POVEDA SOTO (SPAIN IMPORT MANAGER) lax_ghacuba_julio@yahoo.es 


As you can see, many of the retail websites share the same content that is most likely written by Apisun or Cuba Export. You may want to contact these various retailers/reseller/consultants in order to get a complete picture of your opportunities. However, as you will read below, I have a contact for you in Cuba who will help you at Cuba Export, the Cuban agency responsible for the sales and marketing of the product.

If you are going to resell online, you may want to consider registering one or more of the domain names below.

Domains available for registration

You can register these following domain names along with the .org .net etc versions.
• buycubanhoney.com
• cubabee.com
• cubabees.com
• cuba-honey.com
• cubahoney.com is registered but other extensions are available
• cubamiel.com
• cubanbees.com
• cubanhoney.ca
• cuban-honey.com
• extensions are available
• cubanhoneyforsale.com
• honeyfromcuba.com
• mielcuba.com

Havana Journal Inc. owns CubanHoney.com, registered in October 2007.

Honey Pricing

Retail price is 12 jars, 500g each for $42 per box which is $3.50 per bottle.

The brand is sold in different packaging; the most common photo seen is 500 grams.

I am still waiting for pricing guidelines for bulk purchases but my associate tells me this is all negotiable on a number of factors. Wholesale quantities are purchased in 55 gallon drums but obviously pricing is negotiable based on quantity and several other factors.

4. Exporting (contacts and process)

I have an associate in Cuba who has a contact at the Cuban Chamber of Commerce that knows the people and process at Cuba Export http://www.cepec.cu/cubaexport.php who will guide you through the entire process.

This is the best way to do any business in Cuba.

My associate suggests that you come to Cuba to meet with his contact at the Cuba Chamber of Commerce who is willing to serve as your intermediary guiding you through the bureaucratic maze instead of trying to do things by phone, fax or email.

If you cannot go to Cuba to place an order, I will hand you off to my associate so he can introduce you to his contact at the Chamber who will then network you in to Cuba Export.

You will need the following documents:


I remember you said that you spoke some Spanish. This contact at the Cuban Chamber does not speak English well. So, my associate can act as an interpreter if you need one.

CIMEX no longer sells honey but they may still have some influence in the industry and/or exporting. Your contact at the Cuban Chamber of Commerce will guide you through all the steps.

Infanta No. 16 esq. at 23, 2nd Floor, Vedado, Municipio Plaza, Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba

Telephone: 537 prefix

Fax: (537) 833-2220


International Honey Exporters Association

This should be a good information resource for you since Cuba is a member. Go to http://www.iheo.org/en-estadisticas-gp.php and click on Cuba for more stats. Click around for more information but there is no content under "Useful Directions" under the Cuba link.
Crop Season - October to March
Average Crop - 600 metric tons
Average Export Volume - 5.400 metric tons
Domestic Consumption - 6.000 metric tons

Main Types of Honey
• Turbina corymbosa (Water White)
• Ipomoea triloba (White)
• Gouannia polygama (ELA)
• Vighiera helianthoides (ELA)
• Gliricidia sepium (ELA)
• Avicennia germinans (ELA–LA)
• Cordia gerascanthus (W-ELA)
• Lysiloma latisiliqua (ELA)

Main Buyer Countries
• Germany (29%)
• England (30%)
• Spain (14%)
• Denmark (10%)
• Austria (8%)
• Switzerland (6%)
• Finland (3%)

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