Who Makes Costco's Kirkland Signature Honey? The Answer Is Complicated

To some, the answer to who makes Kirkland Signature honey won't seem complicated at all: It's bees who make all of Costco's honey. They make all of everyone's honey. But who exactly gets it out of the various hives, processes it, and distributes it to Costco stores? That's where things can get muddled, and not because the membership-based big box store is tight-lipped about who produces its various Kirkland Signature products.

A Costco executive actually admitted the provenance of at least some of the honey sold. Colorado-based honey giant Rice's Honey — which scored well on our review of raw honeys — is responsible for a portion of what goes into bottles of Kirkland Signature 100% U.S. Raw, Unfiltered Honey. But what does it mean that Rice's supplies only a portion of the honey? Well, Costco used to bill its raw, unfiltered honey as "100% Local." The reality is, though, that not every state has enough beekeepers and hives to ensure that each bottle's contents match that description. In fact, the store once recalled its raw, unfiltered honey due to the fact that the label did not accurately reflect the sourcing. That is why Costco now uses the more general "100% U.S." moniker no matter if you're in the smallest or the largest Costco in the nation

Honey production varies by state

Rice's is based in Colorado, so some might assume that this means Costco's Kirkland Signature Raw, Unfiltered Honey is all from the Rocky Mountain State. That isn't the case, though, as Rice's is actually more of a honey processor. The company works with a network of beekeepers across the U.S. to supply the honey it packages. From California to the Southeastern U.S., hives are humming, but each state isn't an equally fertile ground for the bees. As such, honey is sometimes pulled from a variety of hives that might be in different states — even one of the three states where there isn't a Costco — to ensure that the output is consistently stocked on Costco shelves. There are places, though, where Costco is able to apply a slightly different label, such as in Southern California, where production is plentiful enough to safely bill the product as "100% SoCal Raw, Unfiltered Honey."

This isn't the only honey product that Costco sells, but Rice's isn't behind the other varieties found in the store. The honey for these bottles comes from both domestic and international sources. For instance, the "Pure Clover Honey" features Argentinian and U.S. honey, while the "Raw Organic Honey Bears" Costco sells use honey from Brazil due to a paucity of organic honey in the U.S.