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Honey Price Sting

24 March 2016

Honey Price Sting

Consumers are being stung by over the top prices for table honeys as exporters make a beeline to corner available supplies of mono-floral and bush honeys to blend and label as authentic Manuka honey and make up the shortfall in production to meet voracious overseas markets.

The pressure on supply has forced the domestic spot supply price of everyday clover honey up 40 per cent in the past six months from $9.00 kg in October 2015 to $11.00 kg in January 2016 to $14.00 kg in March 2016. The spot price for thyme honey has increased from $6.00 kg to $12.00 kg and honeydew has gone from $6.00 kg to $10.50. For consumers this means that they can expect to pay around $15.00 for a 500 gram jar of clover honey at retail up from around $10.00 six months ago.

“We want to provide reasonably priced, quality table honeys to retailers, but the Manuka honey exporters are putting the squeeze on mono-floral and bush honey which they need in volume to make blended Manuka honey that can, under the current government guidelines, be sold as real Manuka honey,” says John Smart, Sales and Marketing Manager of Canterbury­-based Airborne Honey. Airborne is the country’s oldest but most technically advanced honey company and a staunch critic of the Manuka honey gold rush mentality that has gripped the industry as well as the delay in defining robust standards for the variety.

Manuka honey commands enormous prices overseas with the annual value of honey exports spiralling 45 percent to $286 million in the 12 months to December 2015, and forecasts predicting ongoing explosive growth to reach $1.2 billion dollars by 2028. Production, however, continues to lag behind demand, hence the need to sell blended Manuka honey as Manuka honey.

“The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has unwittingly sanctioned the creation of a significant honey blending industry whose sole purpose is buying individual mono-floral honey varieties from all over New Zealand and blending them in line with the current MPI Manuka Guidelines,” Mr Smart said. “It’s a business model that defrauds customers and in no way reflects the international CODEX standards for mono-floral honey we are supposedly moving towards.” CODEX requires a honey to be “wholly or mainly” made from the named source on the label.”

Mr Smart said allowing blended Manuka honey, made from other varieties like clover, thyme, rewarewa, honeydew and bush honey to be verified by AsureQuality and validated by government as certified manuka honey brings New Zealand's reputation as a premium quality food producing country into disrepute.

Mr Smart said Airborne Honey has built its reputation as a world leading honey brand by selling true to variety mono-floral honey and uses a proprietary quality assurance system, TraceMe, to provide the authentication to consumers that what is printed on the label is what is in the jar. Airborne also complies with the internationally recognised CODEX honey standards.


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