A couple bought cheap honey then sold to shopkeepers claiming it was made in Norfolk, a court heard yesterday.
William Baker, 58, and his wife Lynn, 54, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, are accused of carrying out a "deliberate and dishonest scam" by using honey from countries such as Argentina and China in their product. The couple have both denied 12 counts of making a false description of food and 12 of obtaining property by deception.
The Bakers are said to have supplied customers with 17.7 tonnes of the falsely-named product between January 2001 and September 2003.
The jars bearing the label "Norfolk" honey were then unwittingly sold by dozens of small businesses across the county, King's Lynn Crown Court heard. "Honey runs" around greengrocers, butchers, post offices and other traders in Norfolk during that time totalled nearly £70,000.
The Bakers actions only came to light when a beekeeper became suspicious and Norfolk County Council's trading standards department was alerted, the court heard.
Prosecutor Miles Bennett told the jury yesterday that the charges involved the sale of honey to businesses in 12 towns and villages in Norfolk.
"Unwittingly all the people who sold this honey were themselves committing offences," he said. "It put retailers at risk of prosecution and it undercut the genuine producers."
During a search of the Bakers' home, the investigation team found "tub upon tub" of Argentinian honey, as well as buckets, boxes, jars and labels.
"In short, it was a scam and a quite deliberate and dishonest scam," Mr Bennett said. "This was a cottage industry on a rather larger scale."
The trial continues.Reuse content