U.S. honey demand reached an all-time high, according to the latest Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook report published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In a special article on the U.S. honey market, record-setting consumption of honey and made-with-honey products totaled 618 million pounds in 2021. The previous record was 596 million pounds in 2017.

The United States is the second largest honey consumer behind China, according to the latest data available from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2019. In 2021, consumption increased 8% from the previous year. Between 1991 and 2021, the average rate of growth is 10.7 million pounds a year. This translates to about 1.9 pounds per capita of honey consumption in 2021 compared with 1.2 pounds per capita in the early 1990s, the report states. 

The growth in demand, in part due to the growing population, as well as attributed to consumers’ association of honey as a “superfood”— along with garlic, ginger, and turmeric — and perception of honey being a healthy sweetener, the report notes.

“We are thrilled to see the results of this study,” said Margaret Lombard, CEO of the National Honey Board, in a statement. “It means that consumers are beginning to understand when you choose honey you are not only getting a perfect all-natural sweetener, but you are supporting honey bees and beekeepers who help to feed the world.”

The 2021 National Honey Board Consumer Attitudes & Usage Study similarly shows a pattern of growth for self-reported usage since 2019. Following on annual gains in positive perceptions of honey, U.S. consumers also reported upticks in honey usage this past year, echoing the results of the USDA’s study.

Consumers who selected honey as their most preferred sweetener cited attributes like ‘natural,’ ‘unprocessed,’ ‘good for the environment,’ ‘organic,’ ‘good source of antioxidants,’ and ‘flavorful.’ Data from the survey confirms American consumers choose honey because of its health benefits, unique flavor, and connection to honey bees and the environment.