10 Aug 2016

Association backs 'thorough' manuka honey classification

7:01 am on 10 August 2016

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

Manuka honey (generic)

Photo: 123RF

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

"Everyone who puts the word 'manuka' on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

"There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say 'this is manuka'."

Mr Rawcliffe said the research was very thorough.

"We went around the country, and this was Dr Jonathon Steven's work, collecting the nectar.

"From the nectar we've identified unique profile and unique markers that are definitely characteristic of this wonderful plant, manuka, and then linked it back to the honey."

The researchers then utilised the latest technology and mass 'spec work" to find what sets the manuka honey apart from the rest, Mr Rawcliffe said.

"Investors can now say 'ah, here's an industry that's shown maturity, shown leadership, this is worth the investment'.

"Not only on the manuka front, but this research can protect kanuka, rewarewa, pohutukawa - all these wonderful monofloral honeys we have, and give a real foundation for investment growth in the industry."

Mr Rawcliffe said the next step is to protect the word 'manuka' through a different organisation that is more industry collective.

The association is discussing and showcasing its four years of research at the Manuka Honey Symposium in Auckland this week.

Speakers include leading scientists from Australia, the UK and Japan.

Mr Rawcliffe said the symposium brought the industry together and was a big step forward.

"It's a celebration and recognition of the work done by key researchers in NZ that this is manuka, we've got people from China, leading researchers from Japan and Germany - all coming to New Zealand to validate this work and recognise it as something we are actually quite proud of," he said.

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