The cool, rainy 2012 season was not a particularly good one for honey production at Honeyview Farm of Chilliwack.
But despite that, a major shipment of blueberry honey is packed and ready to go for export to Japan this week, said farm co-owner Pia Awram.
They were approached by an exporter from Vancouver who explained the high demand in parts of Asia for foodstuffs made with blueberries.
“It’s interesting that the Japanese have such a high opinion of blueberries,” said Awram.
Often called a superfood for its anti-oxidant properties, the blueberry is known as the “vision fruit” in Japan because of its reported health benefits for maintaining vision.
“We’re already shipping a lot of blueberry honey, but there’s also been a strong interest in it from local customers who drive from Vancouver to buy it at the farm,” said Awram.
But it’s a first for an overseas order of this magnitude at Honeyview.
“We’ve never shipped so much in small jars,” she said.
They even had to buy a new bottle filling machine just to make sure they could fill the large order to be ready in time for the holidays.
Now they’ve got 2700 small honey jars ready to go on two large pallets, and all the nutrition information is being printed in Japanese for the labels and boxes.
“We hope to be exporting even more to Japan in the coming years.”
The blueberry blossom honey is made from nectar of the tiny white flowers of the blueberry bush. The honey is light amber in colour with a well rounded flavour.
“It doesn’t have a sharp flavour like buckwheat, but it does have a distinct taste,” she said. “When we process and taste the honey, we can tell which one is blueberry.”
The blueberry flavour is one of several blossom honeys made from the nectar of flowers by Honeyview, alongside raspberry, alfalfa or blackberry, for example.
The weather was so poor last summer it led to smaller berry crops locally, which impacted honey yield totals.
But they still had enough to process and jar up lots of the popular blueberry honey.
They’re looking ahead to 2013 for a much better honey crop, and hoping for a “reasonable” winter season to help hive survival rates. Cold spring weather, and the prevalence of bee diseases in recent years, have been devastating for bee keepers worldwide.
“But the bees look good, and they’re all packed away in their hives for the winter. Next year is going to be really good,” she said.