Royal jelly remains one of the most popular honey-related ingredients in the market. Considering its benefits as well as the growing market demand for natural food ingredients and supplements, it is not surprising that royal jelly is a star ingredient in food supplements.
However, and while royal jelly has been appreciated for thousands of years, this ingredient’s specific and special properties mean it’s important to guarantee the best quality royal jelly, meeting both industry standards and consumer demands.
What is royal jelly and how to make sure that production guarantees ingredient quality? We take a look at this ingredient’s possibilities and the royal jelly production process for the highest quality.
What is royal jelly?
It’s an endogenous product made by bees, meaning it’s the only one in their production that is not mixed with other substances. It’s generated by worker bees between 5 and 14 days of age and is the result of their pharyngeal glands’ secretions.
This ingredient serves as food for all larvae for the first three days after they’re born. After that, it is only consumed by those bees chosen to become queens. As such, this exceptional ingredient is reserved to guarantee the health of the queen bee and, consequently, the colony’s fertility and longevity.
As part of a natural process involving bees, its production takes place within special, elongated queen cells, where around 150 to 250 mg can be contained. A single colony can produce around 500 grams per season.
Harvesting royal jelly is a particularly delicate process which requires a thorough monitoring from beekeepers: it must be extracted every 72 hours in order to guarantee its quality.
The health benefits
- Benefits the immune system, improving resistance against infections, as backed by the European Food Safety Association.
- Helps regulating sugar in blood
- Presents antibacterial properties
- As an active ingredient in skin care products, provides antiage and elasticizing benefits
Discover all the health benefits here.
How is royal jelly made?
Royal jelly suppliers must follow strict steps when it comes to harvesting. In fact, the process of how to harvest it follows these steps:
- Firstly, the larvaes are inserted into queen cells and then into frames. These special frames are used with cells prepared to store the Royal Jelly, where the larvae of no more than 24 hours of life are manually introduced into each of them.
- The frames are put into the beehives and bees start to feed the larvaes.
- The frames are taken out 72 hours after harvesting Royal Jelly.
- Queen cells are cut off
- The larvaes are taken out.
- The royal jelly is scooped out of the cells.
- Once it’s harvested, it is stored in cold storage and sent to factories for processing and to prepare batches that will be sent to our clients.
The royal jelly production process is an exhaustive one, where professional beekeepers must carefully take every step guaranteeing a balance in this delicate natural process. In order to obtain one kilogram, around 2000 cell bars must be emptied.
How to guarantee the quality of Royal Jelly
The best quality royal jelly ensures consumers have access to all the health benefits cited above. In order to do so, it’s essential for wholesale suppliers to guarantee they follow strict processes and regulations.
The following parameters are used to analyze its quality:
- HDA or hydroxydocene acid. This is an organic acid contained in this ingredient which indicates if it’s still biologically active and, as such, its degree of freshness and conservation. The quantity of 10 HDA is an important quality factor for royal jelly. The HDA of royal jelly – 10-hydroxydocene acid – is the indicator that helps us to know the quality of the product.
- Protein levels
Additionally, reliable suppliers follow the ISO 12824:2016 standard in order to guarantee this ingredient’s top quality.
This standard specifies the production and sanitary requirements for royal jelly, establishing a series of organoleptic and chemical test methods to monitor royal jelly quality.
At the same time, the standard presents companies with several requirements regarding transport, storage, packaging and labeling for royal jelly, all with the purpose of providing reliable standards for this ingredient’s quality.
As such, the ISO 12824:2016 standard establishes that it must contain a minimum of 10-HDA or 1,4 g per 100 g of fresh royal jelly and 3,5g per 100g of freeze-dried royal jelly.
Royal jelly requirements in ISO 12824:2016
The ISO 12824:2016 standard presents the following chemical requirements for quality:
Additionally, the following hygienic requirements are included:
The ISO 12824:2016 standard establishes several test methods to guarantee its quality, which are included in the standard’s annexes.
These are also complemented by specific methods by which to collect and store samples in order to ensure they’re appropriate and relevant.
Packaging, labeling, storage and transportation
The standard establishes:
- Food grade packaging must be used when packing royal jelly.
- The packaging must incorporate specific markings (name of the product and brand, name and address of the producer or packer; net weight, harvesting country/countries and year, date of minimum durability, storage instructions, freezing month and type, according to the International Standard).
- Storage specifications include temperature control (between +2 °C and +5 °C or, preferably, less than −18 °C for long-term storage) and instructions to separately store royal jelly produced in different areas and times, while also providing different batch numbers.
- Regarding transport, the standard prescribes low-temperature transportation and avoiding royal jelly to be in contact with toxic, corrosive material or material with peculiar smell or that might cause contamination.
Royal jelly: main uses and applications
Considering this ingredient’s health benefits, is widely used in pharma projects as well as other health-related and self-care products.
The following are common formulas for products:
- Tablets and supplementary pills
- Skin lotions and serums
- Deodorant formulas
- Functional food products
Royal jelly: market research
As part of our long-lasting relationship with innovative honey-related ingredients, at Honeygreen+ we’ve been in charge of developing an essential market research document that highlights the possibilities of royal jelly in the current market.
The following are the most prominent highlights in our research:
- Royal jelly aligns with the current market demand for health-related products. This category (and more specifically, the subcategories of vitamins and dietary supplements) has seen a total of 30 products launched in 2020. Additionally, the first 6 months of 2021 saw a total of 13 new product launches.
In fact, in 2020, 56% of global consumers searched for information regarding ingredients that could improve their health. With royal jelly benefits including blood sugar and bacterial control, it becomes a key ally for brands to stand out in their ingredient claims. At the same time, it’s also related to preventive health, a top consumer priority in 2021
- France, Italy, Spain and Germany lead the number of products that contain this ingredient.
- Popular claims related to royal jelly products include concepts such as “organic”, “immune health”, “botanical product”, “functional” and “energy supply”.
- Royal jelly also aligns with current market preferences for vitamin C & B.
- This ingredient also parallels current consumer preferences for natural ingredients. In fact, 56% of global consumers are now more drawn to claims of natural ingredients.
- It also represents an opportunity for companies to develop sustainable and biodiversity narratives. With the right transparency communication strategies, brands can generate narratives around how the beekeeper sector helps taking care of bees as key pollinators that help conserve biodiversity.
How do we manage royal jelly?
At HoneyGreen+ we make sure we provide the highest quality royal jelly for our clients to develop innovative products that align with current consumer preferences and trends.
Following strict analytical plans to certify and trace each batch, and regulated by the ISO 12824:2016 standard, we provide wholesale royal jelly in various formats to meet our clients needs. This includes fresh royal jelly, frozen and lyophilized royal jelly, all including organic versions.
Our work system is based on the continuous improvement of all processes, and the assurance of the highest quality controls, generating new knowledge and improvement everyday.
At the same time, we provide technical assistance thanks to our support team consisting of 5 professionals specialized in Quality, Food Safety, Biology, Agricultural engineering and Environmental Sciences.
All in all, we work to comply with first-class certifications which reinforce our commitment to product quality and safety and the management systems.
Finally, we present a strong commitment to strengthen our care of bees while also raising awareness on the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development.
Want to learn more about royal jelly as a key ingredient to match current consumer demands for natural immune boosters and dietary additives? Download our free ebook and be inspired to incorporate this ingredient in pharma and cosmetic applications.