12 Oct 2015

Trademark application for manuka honey name

7:51 am on 12 October 2015
The Ministry for Primary Industries wants to be able to more accurately define the properties of manuka honey.

MPI figures show honey exports have almost doubled over the past three years, reaching an estimated $217 million this year. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The UMF Honey Association has applied for a certification mark on the name, in a move it says is essential to protect the product's value.

Currently most manuka honey is produced from two species of Leptospernum trees in New Zealand.

If successful, the certification mark would be available to all New Zealand honey producers.

UMF Honey Association spokesperson John Rawcliffe said the mark was vital to protect the integrity of manuka honey from "pretenders elsewhere with their rash of 'me too' products."

"We need to distinguish and we need to be able to identify what is New Zealand and what is unique, and stand up on the world stage with that behind us, and I think that's really important.

"We're not a commodity product, we're from New Zealand. It's a unique product with unique attributes and values - that needs to be expressed internationally."

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) figures show honey exports have almost doubled over the past three years, reaching an estimated $217 million this year, up from $121 million in 2012.

MPI already has an interim labelling guide for manuka honey, which was introduced after a false advertising scandal in Britain.

However, John Rawcliffe said MPI's guidelines were "purely interim" and a certification mark was essential, particularly in light of the TPP.

The Intellectual Property Office will process the application within 15 days, but it could take years for a final decision to be made.

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