shared by Princess on 04/01/15  -  -  Health

Honey has long been in people's shopping baskets. But why is it increasingly finding its way into bread and alcoholic drinks, asks Luke Jones.

From honey-roasted ham to hot toddies or as a topping on your breakfast porridge, it's a familiar ingredient.

But now honey has experienced something of a surge in popularity. The number of food and drink launches in the UK with honey as a named ingredient has doubled over the past four years to 4%, according to market researchers Mintel.

In October Warburtons launched a "Honey Wheat" loaf. Sugar Puffs were recently rebranded as "Honey Monster Puffs". Drinks such as Jack Daniels' Tennessee Honey and Three Barrels Honey brandy have been "a huge success", says Vince Bamford, food and drink editor at The Grocer magazine. Honey-flavoured meat glazes are increasingly popular, he adds. Honey is having a moment.

It is largely down to "perceptions of health" says David Turner, a food and drink analyst at Mintel. He highlights data from the US where a third of those surveyed believed sugar was bad for their health, but six out of ten thought honey was good for them - which might account for the rise of honey-flavoured meat products, chocolate, ice cream and yoghurts.

But while science does suggest that some high-quality honey has some health benefits, the kind of honey flavouring your cereal is "hardly different to the white sugar on your table", says dietician Sarah Schenker.

The trend started in food production - specifically cereals and food bars, says Turner. They still account for a quarter of food launches containing honey.

It can be seen as indulgent - as in southern barbecue glazes. But it's also portrayed as a natural, organic alternative to "sugar made by men in white coats", suggests Turner. "Customers are starting to see honey as a flavour and not just a sweetener", he says.