Honey Labelling Ten Sweet Tips

honey labelling ten sweet tips

Beekeepers frequently raise questions about honey labelling on online beekeeping forums and Facebook pages.

The answers offered by well-meaning people are many and varied and unfortunately not always correct.

Fortunately,  selling honey is NSW is covered by the same consistent rules and regulations as every other state and territory in Australia.

Selling honey at farmers’ markets is the same as selling honey in a retail store and good labels will make your product stand out.

Mt. Coramba Apiculture hopes that you find our top 10 sweet tips for honey labelling helpful when selling honey in Australia.

This blog was revised in February 2020 & is up to date.


Honey Labelling Essentials

The information that is required on your honey labelling in Australia and New Zealand is prescribed by the Food Standards Code.

Complying with the honey labelling requirements of the Food Standards Code will ensure that your honey can be sold legally.

1. Name of the Food

Of course, the name of the food in our case is honey.

It is important to note that the Food Standards Code 2.8.2 is particular about what honey is.

Honey means the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of blossoms or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which honey bees collect, transform and combine with specific substances of their own, store and leave in the honeycomb to ripen and mature.

A food that is sold as ‘honey’ must:

 (a)      be honey; and

 (b)      contain:

  (i)       no less than 60% reducing sugars; and

  (ii)      no more than 21% moisture.

It is perfectly OK to call your product honey if you choose to.

Alternatively, it is also acceptable to name your honey according to its floral source for example “Yellow Box Honey” or “Ironbark Honey” provided that those descriptions are accurate.

Name of food honey

It is acceptable to describe honey according to its floral source.

2. Lot Identification

It is essential that each batch of honey produced can be identified so that the product is traceable in the event of a recall.  Honey recalls are rare due to the stable nature of the food. However, the product is not exempt from the requirements.

The Food Standards Code 1.2.2 has details of lot identification.

A “Lot” is defined as a quantity of food that is prepared or packed under virtually the same conditions, usually from a particular preparation or packing unit and during a specific time ordinarily not exceeding 24 hours.

Your lot identification can take many forms however it is typically the harvest or extraction date or the packing date.

For example, if you extract honey once in 2019, then your lot identification could be “2019”.  In a better year where you extract honey in January, March and April your lot identifications could be “01/19”, “Mar2019”, or “04/2019”.

The lot identification on your honey labelling can also be a best before date provided you can correlate the best before date to a specific batch of honey.

lot identification honey

The lot identification code allows for traceability.

3. Name and Address of Supplier

All honey labelling must include your name and address.

The Food Standards Code 1.2.2 specifies this requirement.

It is acceptable to use your name or a registered business name.  The label must also have a full street address including the street number, street name, the town or suburb and the state.

You must not use a post office box number, a website address or a Facebook site as your address, however, it is acceptable to have that information or links elsewhere on the label.

The supplier of the food could be the packer, manufacturer, vendor or importer of the food.

You can also choose to include contact details such as your business phone number and email address. However, this is not mandatory.

name and adress of supplier honey

The name and address of the supplier must be a physical address.

4. Warning Statements

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about honey and warning statements.

  • You do NOT have to declare the presence of pollen, propolis or royal jelly on your honey labelling.
  • Similarly, your labelling does NOT have to carry a warning about not feeding honey to infants under 12 months of age due to the risk of botulism.

These are myths that are continually repeated when the issue of honey labelling is raised.

In the case of bee pollen, its presence only needs to be declared when the pollen itself is presented as food or if pollen is an ingredient in the food.

Propolis and royal jelly are treated precisely the same.  Bee pollen and propolis products need to carry a statement saying that they can cause severe allergic reactions.

This information can be found in Food Standards Code Schedule 9 Mandatory Advisory Statements.

Royal Jelly needs a more authoritative statement. ‘This product contains royal jelly which has been reported to cause severe allergic reactions and in rare cases, fatalities, especially in asthma and allergy sufferers.

The Food Standards Code 1.2.3 has details of warning statements.

So to be very clear.  Honey on its own does not require any warning statements.

5. Ingredients

Ingredients labelling for honey is pretty simple.

Where your product is honey only, the ingredient is honey.

Should you wish to add ingredients such as cinnamon or other flavourings  (whiskey, truffle oil), then they must be declared as ingredients.

Ingredients must be listed in order of descending weight.  Therefore in the above example, the ingredients would be listed as:

  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
ingredients of honey

The ingredients list for honey is “honey”.

6. Date Marking

Date marking on honey labelling can be another controversial issue.

The Food Standards Code 1.2.5 states that date marking is not required on food with a best before date of 2 years or more.

It could be successfully argued that honey will remain marketable after two years and will retain the specific qualities of honey provided that;

  • the packaging is intact and,
  • the honey is stored following the applicable storage conditions.

So you can choose not to use a best before date.

Some producers may wish to apply a best before date in place of a lot identification.  In the case of honey you are only required to use the month and the year for example;

  • Best before June 2020 or best before 06/20
best before date on honey

A best before date is optional on honey.

7. Directions for Use and Storage

The Food Standards Code 1.2.6 – 2 requires a direction for use and storage statement if specific storage conditions are required to ensure that the food will keep until the use-by date or the best-before date or if the food must be used or stored in accordance with certain directions for health or safety reasons.

Directions for use and/or storage of food are only mandatory where the food is of a nature that warrants directions about the use or storage of the food for health or safety reasons, for example, keep refrigerated or cook thoroughly.

Given that honey is shelf-stable over a wide range of conditions and doesn’t require a best before or use-by date it is safe to assume that a direction for use and storage statement is not required on your honey label.

If you choose to include directions for use and storage on your honey label a statement similar to “store in a cool, dry place” is sufficient.

directions for use and storage honey

Directions for use and storage honey

8. Nutrition Information Panel (NIP)

Unfortunately honey does not fall into the list of foods that are exempt from carrying a nutrition information panel.

The NIP on your honey label must be in the standard format prescribed by the Food Standards Code 1.2.8.

Thankfully Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has developed a honey nutrition label template calculator.

The nutrition label calculator will generate your honey nutrition information panel for you in a PDF format that can go straight onto your label.

Just click this nutrition panel calculator link and follow the directions.

nutrition information panel honey

Nutrition Information Panel for Honey

9. Country of Origin Statement

New laws regarding Country of Origin Labelling came into force on July 1, 2018.

The Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 sets out the country of origin labelling requirements for food for human consumption that is sold in Australia.

The Online Country of Origin Tool.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has published an online tool that will generate a country of origin label for you.

If you are producing honey sourced from your Australian beehives your country of origin label will look similar to the “Australian Honey” image below.

It is also acceptable to use wording like “Product of Australia” or “Produce of Australia”, and the online tool gives you those options.

Business.gov.au has produced a useful set of resources for  Country of Origin Food Labelling which also includes the Country of Origin Food Labelling Style Guide.

A word of warning.  Should you choose to add any imported ingredients to your honey, e.g. cinnamon, you must declare that when you are in the online tool.

The online tool will change the wording to “Made in Australia from 95% Australian Ingredients” or similar.

It will also populate the bar under the kangaroo. Anyone who does not declare imported ingredients in their products and uses the premium claim, e.g. “Australian Honey” is committing an offence and deceiving their customers.


country of origin australian honey

Country of Origin Label

10. Weights and Measures

In Australia, it is normal to indicate the net weight of the honey in the package rather than volume.

The weights should be expressed in kilograms (kg) or grams (g)

Weights and measures declarations are regulated in Australia by the Australian National Measurement Institute.

The Australian National Measurement Institute has published a Guide to the Sale of Pre Packaged Goods which provides a lot of information about labelling.

weights and measures honey

Weights of less than 1kg should be shown in grams

Honey Labelling Options

A well-designed honey label is an excellent opportunity to promote your business and sell your honey.  There is nothing worse than seeing a great product in poorly labelled packages.

Bar Code

Placing a barcode on your honey label will give you a big advantage should you be considering supplying your honey to retail stores.  Even the smallest corner stores scan barcodes on products to calculate the total cost of your purchases.  You can apply for barcodes for your labels by joining GS1 Australia.  Join GS1 Australia online and get barcodes.

Tamper Proof Packaging

Tamper-proof packaging is not mandated by the Food Standards Code. However, larger retail outlets may require you to provide it on your honey products.

Many lids that fit on plastic honey containers have tamper-evident seals built into the design.  The metal lids that fit onto glass jars don’t have tamper-evident seals, and you may want to use plastic shrink wrap seals or paper tags over the cap to indicate that the product hasn’t been opened before sale.

Representations about Food

It is imperative that you never mislead your customers by making representations about your honey that are not true.

For example:

  • Food type assurance claims – Halal, Kosher, Vegan
  • Production claims – Organic, biodynamic, free-range
  • Origin claims – Locally grown, produced on the Darling Downs
  • Standard/Style/Select claims – Pure, fresh, natural, original, genuine, true, real

In general terms, you must be able to substantiate any claims that you make and this may mean that you have to keep documentation in support of your claims.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has a publication “Food and Beverage Industry – Food Descriptors Guideline to the Trade Practices Act”.

So if your labelling says Pure, Kosher, Biodynamic honey from the Darling Downs, you should be able to back the claim up.

You should read this document if you are in any doubt at all about any representations on your honey labels.

Promote your Product

Don’t forget to tell a story about your product.  Your customers want to know where the honey is from and how it was produced.

Talk your honey up by all means, but you must never be dishonest when describing it.

Never mislead or deceive your customers.

Don’t forget to put the links to your

sites on your labels.

Social media used wisely is a great way to promote your product.

Candied Honey

Beekeepers understand that certain types of honey are susceptible to candying or crystallising.

Consumers tend to get confused about the process of crystallisation, and some people may feel that it indicates that the honey has spoiled or deteriorated in some way.

It may be wise if space permits on your label to provide a short explanation that honey will at times be prone to crystallisation and the process can be reversed by gently warming the honey.

Use a Good Graphic Designer

It is well worthwhile to spend a few hundred dollars getting your labels designed professionally.

Unless you have those specific skills, it can be challenging to get a concept or idea onto a paper label.

A catchy logo can make your product stand out from other poorly designed labels.

We used Giant Media in the Coffs Harbour area.

Use Quality Packaging

Always pack your honey into new food-grade containers such as glass jars with new lids or plastic tubs.

The use of second hand or recycled packaging creates a very poor impression on the consumer.

More importantly, packaging that is not food grade or contaminated can have a terrible impact on your reputation if you get consumer complaints.

We have used:

a well designed honey label

Good graphic design is essential for a honey label

How do I label honey for wedding favours?

Supplying honey in small jars to guests for wedding favours is becoming increasingly popular. I am frequently asked if wedding favour honey needs to be labelled in the same way as honey for commercial sale.

There are quite a few exemptions to labelling in the Food Standards Code.

Food Standards Code 1.2.1 – 6 (1) states “If the food for sale is in a package, it is required to bear a label with the information referred to in subsection 1.2.1—8 (1) unless it (d) is delivered packaged, and ready for consumption, at the express order of the purchaser.

In plain English, that means that if the purchaser buys the honey directly from you and wants the honey packaged in a certain way then gives it away as wedding favours then you can put any sort of label (or no label at all) on the jars.

Do you need help with your labels?

We can review your honey labels to make sure that they are fully compliant with the requirements of the Food Standards Code.

We will provide you with a written report starting from $25.00.

Contact us to ask us about a honey label review.

About the Author

The owner of Mt. Coramba Apiculture, Glenn Locke, has had the beekeeping urge since the early 1980s as a 14-year-old teenager.

The Warwick (QLD) high school agriculture department had a few beehives and beekeeping was taught as a subject.  Glenn’s agriculture teacher Jim Caird let him have a nucleus hive, and the addiction started.

Glenn has had a long career in the food industry including 16 years as an audit & compliance officer with the NSW Food Authority.  Food labelling and food labelling fraud were a significant part of his work and Glenn took part in many high profile prosecutions involving non-compliant labelling and misleading conduct by food businesses.

The move to the mid-north coast of NSW and particularly the beautiful Orara Valley means that Glenn now has the space to commence beekeeping again. Glenn has managed beehives in the Orara Valley since 2009.

We supply high quality local, raw honey.

Buy our raw honey online.

Do you have questions about honey labelling?  Leave a comment below or contact us. 

56 responses to “Honey Labelling Ten Sweet Tips”

  1. Allan Thomas says:

    Great article Glen. Can I copy it for use in my courses?

  2. Rob says:

    Fantastic read, thank you.

  3. Steve Walters says:

    Great information, it’s hard sometimes to know where to get this information.
    Thank-you Glen.

  4. Moe Jarrad says:

    Thanks Glen, well written!

    • cp-admin says:

      Thanks Moe. Let me know if I can improve anything. Glenn Locke
      Get an exclusive discount on the biggest innovation in beekeeping for over 150 years.
      Use the link below to get 10% off Flow Hives, Supers & Flow Frames.

  5. Carolyn says:

    Thanks Glen well explained and very useful. I also thought we needed to include our apiarist registration details on the label. Or is that just Vic.?

    • cp-admin says:

      Thanks Carolyn, Apiarist registration details are not required anywhere in Australia however there is no reason why you can’t include them. Best wishes, Glenn Locke.

  6. Sarina says:

    Hi if I buy wholesale honey from beekeeper and bottled it myself, what sort of labelling requirements do I need? And do I need permit or license to do this? Any guidance is highly appreciated! SLe

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Sarina, thanks for reading my article & making contact. The labelling requirements are the same regardless of where you source your honey. Permits & licences vary from state to state in Australia. You should contact your local council for the appropriate information. Best wishes, Glenn Locke.

  7. Peter Cabak says:

    Hi, where can I download Nutrition information label and Product of Australia (PDF)
    I would like to add them to my labels.
    I’m trying to find them on government websites, but what I’ve found, could not copy or download them.
    Thanks, Peter

  8. Craig says:

    Thanks Glen, so useful and appreciated!

  9. Barbara says:

    Great article, most helpful thank you. Do all the same requirements apply for honey comb?

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Barbara, Thanks for reading my article. Yes. Honeycomb is food for sale and the same requirements apply. Best wishes, Glenn Locke

  10. Renee says:

    Hi, thanks for the information. Do you know if these same labelling laws applied if I was to buy whole sale of a honey distributor and repackage into much smaller (40ml) jars for wedding favours? Thank you

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Renee, thanks for reading my labelling article. Good question! One of the exemptions to labelling (FSC 1.2.1 – 6) (1) states “If the food for sale is in a package, it is required to bear a label with the information referred to in subsection 1.2.1—8(1) unless it (d) is delivered packaged, and ready for consumption, at the express order of the purchaser. I plain English that means that if the purchaser buys the honey directly from you and wants the honey packaged in a certain way then gives it away as wedding favours then you can put any sort of label (or no label at all) on the jars. I frequently sell jars of honey direct to customers unlabelled using that clause. Hope that helps. Glenn Locke

  11. Katrina says:

    IF you are giving honey away as presents, are there any rules about labelling, or like the wedding favours, can it have any sort of label or none?

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Katrina, Thanks for reading my blog & commenting. Labelling is not required if you are giving honey away as a gift. Yes, I would treat it the same as for wedding favours. Best wishes, Glenn Locke.

  12. Wonderful information here…thanks for writing up. At the end of the day, anyone selling any food product should be very aware of the Food Act…and their local council requirements. Although I find the local councils are sometimes learning about the simplicity of the honey process. Thanks again, I’d like to share with my bee network 🙂

  13. Tan says:

    Thank You SO much for this article!!!
    I’ve been going round in circles trying to find out what we need to include on our labels
    This article has proven VERY helpful

  14. We often refer student beekeepers to this information thanks Glenn for putting it all together !

    • cp-admin says:

      Thanks, Benedict, any feedback on how I could improve it would be welcome. Best wishes, Glenn Locke

  15. Barb says:

    What a great read. Thanks so much.
    I have a friend that works away and wants to take honey with him. We were thinking Of packaging our honey into 10-12 gram satchets or “pillow pouches” but we can’t find anybody that does this. I have had a look on the 3 websites that you mentioned and still can’t find anything. Would you know of anybody?
    Thanks again for a great read

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Barb, thanks for reading my article & contacting me. I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to your question. You will just have to keep googling I’m afraid until you find the solution. Thanks, Glenn LOcke

  16. Nathan says:

    Much appreciated Glenn. I lived in Stanthorpe for a bit as a teen and now in Castlemaine, so good honey has surrounded me and now having surplus I aim to sell as merchandise from my online music store. Your article really helped de-stress about the process. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Nathan, Thanks for that. I know Stanthorpe well as I was born & bred in Warwick. Thanks for reading my labelling article. Best wishes, Glenn Locke

  17. Bev McNaughton says:

    Thank you as I am just getting ready to launch my honey I found this very helpful

  18. Bev McNaughton says:

    Hi, I am trying to find if the nutrition information is different for honeycomb to honey but the Calculator only seems to list Honey, do you know if pure honeycomb (ross rounds) needs different labeling than plain honey? Thanks

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Bev, I can’t find one either so I would just go with the one for honey & list wax honeycomb in the ingredients & you won’t go too wrong. Thanks for reading my blog. Glenn Locke

  19. Jon Jones says:

    Hey Glenn, Thanks for the information, was very helpful. Do I need to list the ingredients under a heading of ‘ ingredients’ or will 100% Australian honey on the label be sufficient?
    Do I need to list the servings per package in the nutritional information panel?

    Jon Jones

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Jon, I think using a heading would be wise however either way would be fine as your intention should be clear to the consumer. Yes, the servings per package needs to be on the NIP. It is up to you what the serving size is. If you follow the NIP calculator it will work out. Thanks, Glenn Locke

  20. Evelyn Buckley says:

    Thanks very much for sharing your very useful knowledge. I’m just starting up in Yarram, Victoria where the honey is delightful.

  21. Leanne says:

    Oh my goodness, do you know how long I have been looking for clear, concise information like this? Thank you so very much!

  22. Chinwe Menyuah says:

    Thanks for this great write-up because it’s going to help me in my small scale honey retailing.

  23. Clare Borchers says:

    Hello Glenn
    Thank you for a clear and informative article on the labeling requirements for sale. This is a bit of our story, helped along by 12 mature eucalypts on our block and a native garden full of Callistemon, grevillea, tea trees, and Correas, flowering opportunistically all year. And a few wattles.
    Our then 16 yo son, won a Beekeeping Scholarship courtesy of Canberra BeeKeepers and became ‘stung’ or should I say ‘stuck’ on beekeeping. We allowed the hive to settle for 9 months after he bought a nucleus colony, late January 2020. Worrying all the while if the bees were getting enough to eat/warm enough etc. At 17 he began harvesting after inspection – only the lid comb where they desired to build freeform – don’t worry we fixed this problem eventually. From these ‘robs’ he managed to get roughly 4kg honey and 500g wax in October 2021, 3.6kg 3 December 2021, and 450g wax. All by gravity filter through a sieve and my jelly muslin, lining a colander. Wax rinsed, crushed, and cleared with a simple fish tank solar idea sourced online. And all was basically labeled with mass, when and where etc, and INXS of home use, given as gifts for family and friends. His third harvest off frames was done in mid-December 2021 using the borrowed Canberra Beekeepers press as he was only doing 2-3 poorly formed frames (9.5kg honey and I forgot to weigh the wax after processing approx 500g). This too added to Christmas gifts INXS of home needs and made an excellent ingredient in panforte, honey cake for gifts too. At this point, he had the time to fix the lid problem as all his exams had finished and he could look towards the future as an early offer student at ANU in science honours. Recent inspection saw 4 cross-combed frames removed and harvested by a press for honey and wax by solar retrieval – he has about 15kg of honey and the opportunity to sell the honey at the University/Canberra Environment Centre shop, so I thought he would really need to make sure the honey is properly labeled – hence finding your most excellent article. So after a bit of his story, I once again thank you for a superb article as I head off to jar the honey for him and bring the label up to scratch, for Huon to take in to sell and earn his keep (LOL). Regarding all the wax, well the Canberra Environment Centre offers courses in wax wraps who always need fresh wax, and I was thinking of looking at wax crayons as the childcare center is next door, polish, gardeners soap with Shea butter to soften the wax, and Dad was thinking furniture polish and candles. Our current wax ranges from almost white to pale and mid yellow. Methinks we need to get more hives and retire to have time to enjoy the home business.

  24. Elizma says:

    As newly started beekeepers in QLD this has been extremely helpful. Thank you 🙂

  25. Thanks for the great consolidated info – really helpful in designing my labels

  26. Leonard Brown says:

    For a new bee keeper starting the journey of selling honey – Thank you for a wonderful resource.

  27. Tamara says:

    Good afternoon,
    We have started offering a bee keeping program at our school and we are hoping to sell some of our honey at our school fete later this year. As we are just starting out and will have a fairly small supply we are trying to keep our costs to a minimum and were hoping to save some money by using swing tags for labels rather than having stickers printed up. I’ve tried looking online and have yet to find an answer (and I understand this may be something you can not help with) – we know we need to label our honey as we are selling it, what we can’t determine is whether attaching our labels as a swing tag is acceptable or whether we must have something like a sticker on the jar?

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Tamara, apologies for the slow reply. Swing tags are not a problem so long as they contain the same information as a stick on label would have. Thanks for reading my blog.

  28. Marissa says:

    Thanks for the great info. I’ve read the labels need to be food grade but am having difficulty finding them. Avery, for example, print honey jar labels but they are not food grade. Can you please advise where to find food grade labels?

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Marissa, I have never heard of food grade labels. A label on the outside of a jar has no contact with the productso any type of paper/plastic etc would be acceptable. Thanks for reading my blog & commenting.