Mary Bell's
Secrets of Honey Jar Labels
Collated from teachers Ann Harmon, Bob Binnie, Kerry Owen, and the National
Honey Board.
Your containers must be new to look their best.  Old jars or reused jars will eventually
collect fine scratches and rub marks that just don't look very nice on the shelf and
definitely do not show your honey to its best advantage.

Don't use old pickle jars or lids or any jar that had something with a strong smell or
taste.  Your honey will pick up that smell/taste, which can really slow down any return

Make sure your jars are clean (even brand new jars should be washed and dried before
using them) and carefully clean up any sticky spots from the filling process.

You need to know your market and customers in order to choose the best jars and labels
to attract them.  Mary finds that pint-sized canning jars and bears are what sells best for
her, but you might find that different shapes work better for you.  You might have a
different jar and label if you sell at the flea market than you would if you sold at an
upscale store.  One-piece lids seem to be a big draw - her customers say that when they
open the jars with two piece lids the odds are that the inner lid will fall out of the ring
and (Of course!) land sticky side down.  You don't have that problem with a one-piece
This is one of the most important decisions you must make - it needs to:
1. Appeal to your customer
2. Stand out from other similar products
3. Meet legal labeling requirements

Mandatory Label Requirements:
1.  "Honey" must be the biggest word on your label.  You can also put the name of a
plant or flower if it is the
primary floral source for that particular honey.

2.  Your contact information
must be on the label.  Your name and address and/or phone
number, smallest should be 1/16" - remember, this is good sales contact info for your
customer too, they need to be able to read it so that they can find you when they want
more of your honey.

3.  Net weight in
both pounds/ounces and grams must be included on your label in
easy-to-read type.  This is just the weight of your honey, not including the jar or lid.  Use
the government conversion factor of:   1 ounce = 28.3495 grams
                                                          1 pound = 453.592 grams
You can't use more than three digits after the decimal point.  You can round the weight
down but not up (so you don't overstate the amount of honey in the jar).  In other words,
you can round a 1 pound jar to 453 grams, not 454.

Graphic Elements:
You can put pictures on your labels to represent your honey.  Bees, bears, flowers, fruit,
honeycomb, beekeeper images, hives - almost anything you think of when you think of
your honey will do.  Just make sure you keep it simple and meaningful to your customer
too.  While your old red pickup truck might make you remember taking off that honey, it
might not mean that to your customer!  Some people say you should not use bees on your
label, but we've found that here in South Carolina a bee on the label works very well.  

Color is very important on your label.  The Institute of Color Research in Chicago
(ICRC) says that green usually means decaffeinated or low-fat to consumers and might
not work well as a honey label.  Having green elements on your label, like grass or a
tree, might be different.  Kerry Owens labels have quite a bit of green on them, they are
lovely and work quite well.  ICRC says that black and gold make consumers think the
product is upscale or gourmet.  Again, consider your market.

                                                                            When you look at the two labels to the    
                                                                             left, which one do you like best?             
                                                                             Sometimes printing out samples will      
                                                                             help you to decide.

Descriptive phrases:
1.  "All Natural" symbolizes the quality and purity of the product
2.  "Natural" - the FDA has a specific position on this word, it means
nothing artificial
or synthetic
has been added that consumers would not expect to be in honey.  

...Raw...Pure...Local...Wildflower...Sourwood...Spring Blossom...Summer Blossom...
Autumn Gold... and so on...

"Organic"  - this is a tricky word.  The USDA implemented a set of national standards
that foods labeled "organic" must meet, whether produced in the US or imported from
another country.  Before your product can be labeled "organic," a USDA-approved
certified inspector
must inspect the farm and surrounding area where the product is
produced to make sure that producer is complying with all the rules to meet USDA
standards for organic products.  Unless you have been certified, you
cannot use the word
"organic" on your label.

Label Stock:
Preprinted labels are available from several companies.  Bee Culture and American
Bee Journal have ads for many of these companies or you can search out other firms
on-line or in the phone book.  There is usually a set-up fee for the first batch of labels,
following orders usually cost less unless you change your design.
     A. Select one of their labels and have your contact information printed on them
     B. Design your own label and have them print it for you
     C. Hire a graphic designer or find a graphic design student to help you design your
label and then have the company print it for you.
Print your own labels.  
     A. Microsoft word has label design capability, you just need a color printer and
permanent ink or a spray fixative.  You can buy all kinds of label shapes or sizes at
office supply stores like Staples or OfficeMax.
     B. There are other graphic design programs available from those stores too, or look
on the web.

These can draw attention to your product.  The National Honey Board has them available
for a reasonable cost (call 800-553-7162 or look them up on the web
or you can design and print your own.  Tell something about your honey -is it special like
sourwood or tupelo?  Give instructions on how to de-crystalize the honey or offer a
recipe or instructions on how to substitute honey for sugar in a recipe.

Finally -
Tasting samples work really well, it is also a good conversation opener.
Talk to the people who come by your booth, but don't push your honey.  Talk about honey
or bees or beekeeping.  Your customer-to-be will ask you about buying honey, you don't
need to push them.   
Good sales!                                                                                                
to Page 2
updated 23 Feb 2013
This is the link to the SC Department of Agriculture site with the official requirements
for your labels and your honey barn, as of 2012: