29 Aug 2016

UMF defends manuka fraud reports

11:30 pm on 29 August 2016

The UMF Honey Association says they have confidence in exporting manuka despite reports from the UK that the industry is riddled with fraud.

UK trade magazine The Grocer claims that New Zealand export guidelines do not work and some operators were making money from fake manuka honey.

The government is currently working on an agreed definition of manuka honey, but the beekeeping industry is worried the speculation will damage the lucrative export market.

The honey industry earns about $240 million in exports a year.

John Rawcliffe, from the UMF association, said every summer there was a bit of a beat up by the British press about manuka, but they were still confident in their product.

"We've spent four years of research, we've done a lot of international work on this as well to be able to say 'this is manuka'.

"We've actually worked with british laboratories so consumers in the UK can send product away for confirmation."

Mr Rawcliffe said it's frustrating.

"It's a high value product, we need to make sure all our standards are in place to back it up and we've ensured that we've put the resources behind it to do that.

"When you're a tall poppy, people want to take you down."

Mr Rawcliffe said the export guildelines do need tightening up.

"It's been well reported that the guidelines are wide ranging and do not quite hit the mark."

He said the bad press could impact exports, but the main concern was protecting the "NZ story" of the product.

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