22 Jan 2014

Manuka authentication project

2:59 pm on 22 January 2014

An organisation representing most of the country's manuka honey producers says it's got the backing of a major overseas customer for a project authenticating the highly-prized honey.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has begun working on a new guideline for New Zealand's most valuable honey, after concerns were raised in some overseas markets about false claims and labelling for manuka, which commands top prices for its anti-bacterial and healing qualities.

Meanwhile, the Unique Manuka Factor or Honey Association is collecting samples from around the country to establish a chemical profile of manuka.

It will fingerprint manuka and other types of honey to use as a reference point in honey testing.

UMF Association general manager John Rawcliffe says the UK's largest importer and distributor, Rowse Honey, is backing the project, and he says getting that sort of international recognition is important.

Mr Rawcliffe says the manuka ID project fits in with the Ministry's consultation process aimed at drawing up new labelling guidelines for the honey, possibly with regulatory backing.

He says more than 40 companies are licensed to use the UMF trademark covering about 70 percent of the authentic manuka exported in retail packs from New Zealand.