The Government's released a scientific definition for Mānuka honey, in hope of safeguarding the authenticity of the products that New Zealand exports overseas.
LISTEN ABOVE: Mike Hosking talks to the head of the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association, John Rawcliffe, who welcomes the new Mānuka honey definition.
It means overseas regulators and consumers can have confidence in that the honey they're receiving is genuine New Zealand Mānuka honey, as it's a premium product, exported at a premium price.
Food Safety Minister David Bennett said it was those overseas regulators and consumers who've been pushing for an independent, Government-backed definition.
"[It] will provide an important starting point for the industry to promote New Zealand Mānuka honey in world markets," he said.
John Rawcliffe, head of the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association, told Mike Hosking said the new definition could help local industry.
He said honey products incorrectly branded as Mānuka, will be barred from export, which will protect the Mānuka brand.
The scientific definition has taken the Ministry for Primary Industries more than two years to develop, which the Ministry said was necessary because questions had been raised in overseas markets about the authenticity of some honey being sold as New Zealand Mānuka honey.
Ministry of Primary Industries experts collected over 800 honey samples from over 20 different honey types, from 16 different countries. It studied the samples to find what the identifying attributes were from the Mānuka plant that ultimately made up the Mānuka honey product. Those experts then developed and validated test methods to make sure those attributes can be tested for, and worked out a criteria for identifying monofloral and multifloral Mānuka honey.
The UMF Honey Association said the announcement of a scientific definition is a step in the right direction for its 100 plus members, that collectively export over 80 percent of all Mānuka honey products from New Zealand.
“A robust regulatory definition implemented by MPI across all of the industry will help protect an important New Zealand product which is in huge demand internationally.
“The UMFHA has undertaken its own extensive science programme over the past five years. We look forward to incorporating the perspectives and learnings of our international science team during the six weeks’ review and consultation phase.
“At the end of that process, we hope to see in place a regulatory definition that provides greater support and increased confidence to our members, consumers and regulatory authorities worldwide.”
MPI is implementing the definition of mānuka honey through changes to export requirements.
Public consultation on the definition and the export requirements opened on 11 April 2017.