A Sticky Situation

Beekeeping and honey production is a significant industry sector in Northland providing hundreds of jobs, particularly in low-income communities. However, a decision by MPI to redefine the lucrative manuka honey product could reportedly see a drop in income by as much as 70%.

At a recent hui in Kaikohe, those affected met with MPI scientists to discuss the definition and debate regional variations in the chemical markers that distinguish manuka from non-manuka sourced honey.

Dr Craig, consultant to Ngati Hine’s honey company explained that the manuka honey met the original definition. MPI responded by saying it changed the definition in a bid to prevent the manuka brand being devalued through blending. MPI was aware that some producers were blending honeys in order to change the levels of chemical markers.

While the decision by MPI to change the definition was arbitrary, the science that identified the six chemical markers found in manuka honey was believed to be robust. In changing the definition, MPI had not expected such a significant impact on the Northland manuka honey crop.

MPI has committed to further sampling of manuka honey in Northland to understand the stability of chemical markers. Watch this space!

Whitelaw Weber works closely with a number of clients in the apiary industry and understands the issues that may impact them. If you’d like more information about beekeeping and honey production, give Paul or Wayne a call on 407 7117.