South Island Honey in Demand
The sweet taste of honey has made it a treat for over 8000 years – but now there’s more.
Growing awareness of its health benefits and the appeal of its natural origins has meant South Island honey producers are riding a wave of unprecedented overseas demand.
Taylor Pass Honey, one of the south’s largest producers, has doubled production over the past two years and the remote wilderness areas they source their honey from has been a compelling selling point for overseas markets, marketing manager Jo Bray says.
“The provenance story of our products is a key differentiator for our brand for both domestic and international consumers, with traceability back to the hive being a fundamentally important attribute particularly as the consumers of today place a great deal of importance on country of origin and authenticity.”
The Blenheim based company has expanded its south island honey operations deep into the Central Otago and South Westland, quadrupling the number of hives in those areas to keep up with demand and ensure security of supply.“Having geographic diversity ensures we are somewhat protected against a total crop failure should a poor season arise as happened in 2016/2017. In addition to this these two areas provide access to nectar sources not abundant in the Marlborough region,” Jo says.
Part of the strategy is to provide their customers, particularly in the rapidly growing U.S. market, with variety.
“Whilst Mānuka makes up the bulk of our crop this is not our primary focus, our value proposition lies in producing a wide range of unique mono-floral honeys that carry the signature flavours and properties of the South.
“The South Island provides us with access to honey varietals not found anywhere else in the world and this feeling of a product not being readily available suddenly makes it very attractive to the consumer – hence increased demand.”
While historical data for hive numbers in the south is hard to find, nationally the trend has still been strongly upward according to Apiculture New Zealand CEO Karin Kos.
“As at September 2018 there were 211,504
registered hives in the South Island (out of a total of
885,004 across all of NZ).
“National trends have seen hive numbers double in the last ten years – ten years ago hives were around 355,000.”
Another positive aspect of the growth is the changing age demographic with a number of young new entrant beekeepers drawn to the industry she said.
This article was first published by Tim Brewster on The Good South webguide.