27 Dec 2014

Manuka honey industry research

10:15 pm on 27 December 2014

A major science project is under way to help protect the manuka honey industry.

The Ministry for Primary Industries wants to be able to more accurately define the properties of manuka honey.

The Ministry for Primary Industries wants to be able to more accurately define the properties of manuka honey. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The Ministry for Primary Industries is collecting nectar, pollen and DNA samples from manuka and other plants in a bid to be able to more accurately define the properties of manuka.

Imposters selling second-rate manuka honey have been a challenge for the industry because consumers pay a premium for the product's healing properties.

The Ministry of Primary Industries wants to more accurately define the properties of the honey so consumers can know they are buying the real deal.

Scientists will be collecting samples around the country as manuka plants flower.

Senior ministry advisor Suzanne Keeley said the samples would ultimately help identify the DNA characteristics and chemical profile of the honey.

"Essentially flowering will progress from the top of New Zealand down to the bottom as summer progresses and we're not just collecting plant species associated with manuka, we're collecting a variety of different plant species all involved in honey production."

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