A new scientific definition to authenticate manuka honey, which sits at the heart of a new initiative aimed at clamping down on product fraud, has been hailed as a “major milestone”.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released the new definition this week as part of a high profile new consultation.
“The proposed definition and export requirements are important for the continued growth of our important export honey industry,” said deputy director-general, Bryan Wilson.
“Working with contracted experts, MPI has undertaken a 3-year programme to provide a science-based definition that can determine whether or not honey is authentic New Zealand manuka honey,” he says.
“Our science programme has been carefully planned and executed and as a result the definition is robust, sophisticated and accurate,” Wilson said.
“This is important because questions have been raised in overseas markets about the authenticity of some honey being sold as New Zealand manuka honey.
The definition uses 5 attributes (4 chemicals and a DNA marker) that, when present in honey at specified levels, “provide clear evidence that the honey is New Zealand mānuka honey”.
The lead trade body for the honey and beekeeping industry, Apiculture New Zealand, has welcomed developments.
Karin Kos, the organization’s chief executive, said: “The introduction of a regulatory science definition is a major milestone in the history of the manuka honey industry. It is a relatively young industry growing very rapidly and with huge potential.”
“Manuka honey is a very valuable market asset for producers and for New Zealand as a whole, and it needs to be carefully protected. It needs to be very clear what it is, and what it isn’t”
She continued: “We signalled our willingness to work with MPI to ensure its proposed science definition is robust in meeting shared objectives around consumer confidence and authenticity, and will be making a detailed submission on behalf of industry. Manuka honey is a very valuable market asset for producers and for New Zealand as a whole, and it needs to be carefully protected. It needs to be very clear what it is, and what it isn’t.
Consultation on the proposals starts on Tuesday 11 April 2017 at 4pm and closes on Tuesday 23 May 2017 at 5pm. MPI is aiming to bring the new requirements into effect in late July 2017.
Image: Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand