Fragmented honey industry votes to create single peak body
By Suze Metherell
June 25 (BusinessDesk) - Federated Farmers Bees, Honey Packers' and Exporters' Association, and National Beekeepers' Association have all voted to proceed with plans to create a single national body for the apiculture industry.
The industry bodies voted with a substantial majority to unify the industry at their respective annual meetings held after a four-day conference in Taupo, Fed Farmers said in a statement. The Apiculture Industry Unification Project's interim working group told the conference that to be profitable and sustainable the industry needed formalised administration and a single peak body funded by a possible reintroduction of commodity levies.
Yesterday the working group proposed an interim governance board of 12, with a goal to launch a formal national body for the $5.1 billion industry next April. It would grow out of the National Beekeepers' Association and would represent commercial and hobby beekeepers, exporters, packers, food manufacturers and health product makers. The Federated Farmers Bee group would be wound down, while the Honey Packers' and Exporters' Association, and the Bee Products Standards Council would come under the national body's umbrella.
There are expectations China will impose standards on the lucrative manuka honey trade, which has drawn criticism in the UK after a number of false claims to manuka pedigree from what were just blends. Asian demand for manuka honey has seen the price across all New Zealand honey increase, stoked by a global shortage of honey. Bees produced $187 million of exported honey in the June 2014 year, up 8 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value on the previous year.
The NBA was funded by commodity levies during the late 1990s, but members voted against renewing the levies after their expiry in 2002, and membership to the association also became voluntary. In 1996, before it moved to a per site charge, levies were $1.61 per hive and the average honey price was $2.20 per kilogram. The average price of honey is now $15 per kilogram, he said.
In one scenario outlined, if the industry was charged $1 for each of the country's 482,856 commercial hives plus a levy of 1 cent per kilogram of honey it could raise $632,856, based on 15,000 tonnes of honey produced. If hobbyists' hives were included there would be a further $21,195. If hive fees were $2.50 and the levy rate was 15 cents per kilo that would be $3.5 million.
In the meantime, the working group said the interim governance board will be funded by a voluntary subscription. It led by an independent chairman, with representatives voted on by their sectors. Commercial beekeepers will get four seats, export packers and marketers two seats, while hobbyist beekeepers, domestic packers and marketers, food manufacturers and health products get a seat each. This is also a possible model for the final body.