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Airborne Honey Urges Kiwis to Buy Fully Traceable Food

19 March 2013

NZ Honey Not Always What It Seems: Airborne Honey Urges Kiwis to Buy Fully Traceable Food

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s longest standing honey brand, is calling on New Zealanders to be sure that the honey they are buying is what it claims to be and of a sufficiently high standard. According to Airborne Honey data, a large amount of honey on the shelves is heat damaged and labelled inaccurately. This includes Clover and Manuka honeys coming in well under the pollen percentage recommended by published research and derived from applying the Codex international standard for honey.

“The horsemeat scandal in Europe is encouraging more people than ever before to make food choices based on traceability and assured quality. Unfortunately, many don’t realise that there can be such discrepancies when it comes to honey,” says Peter Bray, Managing Director of Airborne Honey. “We have tested some Clover honeys in our laboratory that have contained almost no Clover pollen, when published research into pollen levels, such as Neville Moar’s Pollen Analysis of New Zealand Honey, as well as corroborating information from laboratories shows it should be at least 45 percent. We have found Manuka labelled products that have less than 10 percent Manuka pollen, when it should be 70 percent and above.”

“In some cases, this is simply because testing processes aren’t stringent enough,” adds Peter. “However, when a product like Manuka is returning the beekeeper $15-20/kg, versus polyfloral blends, which give him a return of $5-6/kg, there is also a real incentive for some companies to mislabel. This isn’t helped by the fact that there are no New Zealand standards for honey that have been fully accepted and adopted by everyone in the industry.”

Airborne Honey has also identified a countrywide issue with heat damage, which depletes nutrients in the honey and results in a noticeable decrease in flavour intensity.

“We use HMF (HydroxyMethylFurfuraldehyde) testing, which indicates heat and storage changes in honey,” says Peter. “A HMF score of around 6 is acceptable and usual in fresh, extracted honey. However, many honeys on the shop shelves are sitting at 27 and above, which suggests excessive heating when processing and storing.”

Airborne Honey is the only company in New Zealand with its own in-house laboratory, which measures samples from every batch of honey that comes in and goes out, and has a comparative database containing more than 30,000 records. Every beekeeper’s honey is tested before purchase to identify pollen count, honey colour, conductivity and sugars. This assures Airborne that it is good quality and true to its varietal type. The honey is fully traceable, with each Airborne Honey jar stamped with a batch number, along with the HMF and pollen percentage figure, meaning it can be traced back to the original hive. Peter would like to see more transparency in the honey industry and hopes Airborne can lead by example.

“Honey is one of New Zealand’s favourite foods, with higher consumption per head (1.65 kilos per annum) than anywhere else in the world,” says Peter. “Kiwi shoppers deserve to know that their honey is of an acceptable quality and that it is what it claims to be. Consumers that are after a genuine honey taste experience will be disappointed if the honey fails to meet their expectations due to heat damage or incorrect identification.”

Further details on the HMF number as well as Airborne Honey’s approach to testing and processing can be found at

About Airborne Honey:
Airborne Honey is New Zealand’s oldest and most technically competent honey company. Behind each jar is 100 years of experience, plus 25 years of laboratory experience and a comparative database containing more than 30,000 records. Airborne Honey adheres closely to the principles of being Honest, Undamaged and Traceable. Specific numbers on Airborne Honey packaging relates to the honey’s actual pollen count, the HMF level, plus others, giving Airborne the ability to trace the honey right back to its source, as well as pinpointing any damage from processing and identifying its active ingredients. Airborne Honey has also patented a unique, breakthrough technology that almost entirely minimises heat damage to honey and delivers to the consumer the most natural and undamaged honey possible.


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