Billy Bee is definitely feeling the sting from Canadian consumers.
A petition created last week by commercial beekeeper Allan Campbell that calls for the company to source its product exclusively from Canada has so far racked up 70,000 signatures–almost 10,000 per day. Proving that, once again, Canadians are quick to support local farmers.
“Canada’s largest honey packer, Billy Bee, and their international corporate parent McCormick have all but stopped buying Canadian honey,” the petition reads. “Instead they choose to import cheaper honey from countries like China and Argentina and blend them with just enough Canadian honey so that they can still say Canadian on the bottle simply to improve their bottom line. There is definitely no shortage of Canadian honey!”
Reminiscent of what happened with Heinz ketchup, Canadians are now lashing out at another major food company for importing its product from a foreign source. In fact, Billy Bee’s Facebook page and McCormick Canada’s Twitter handle have been the targets of all kinds of angry comments.
— Hugh Simpson (@OspreyBeekeeper) March 25, 2016
— G (@VancouverBlues) April 4, 2016
— ParrySoundAreaFood (@psoundfood) April 7, 2016
For its part, McCormick Canada tells us that they source “at least 85% of our honey from Canada beekeepers,” according to Andrew Foust, VP Marketing for McCormick Canada.
“We are one of the largest purchasers of Canadian honey. Honey’s flavour is greatly impacted by the bees’ nectar source and Billy Bee has a unique taste that has made it a favourite among Canadians for over 60 years,” he wrote in an email. “Blending Canadian honey with a small portion of Argentinian honey ensures the consistent flavour that Canadians have come to expect from Billy Bee year over.”
He also notes that Billy Bee sources its organic honey from Brazil as there is an “insufficient” supply available here.
Some Canadians, however, don’t seem convinced.
“My husband is a beekeeper and we are disgusted that McCormick is importing Chinese honey with heaven knows what’s in it and saying that the Canadian honey is in short supply…will be boycotting all McCormick products,” reads one comment posted beneath the petition.
“You’re importing honey from CHINA??? Are you freaking kidding me? It’s not even HONEY in most cases! Last time I buy a McCormick product EVER until you change this practice. Are you looking to deliberately poison your customers McCormick?” reads another, posted on the company’s Facebook page.
Foust denies Billy Bee products contain any honey from China. Although McCormick Canada also produces Natural Honey Farms, which does. It’s still important to note though that Natural Honey Farms is entirely separate from the Billy Bee line.
We asked if the company has any plans to switch over to using 100 per cent Canadian honey in its products, and Foust told us “we are always evaluating future product offerings.”
So it looks like for now, Billy Bee has itself in one heck of a sticky situation.