30 Dec 2016

No, honey, you can't use the word manuka

3:13 pm on 30 December 2016

New Zealand honey producers are accusing Australian researchers of using the word manuka in an attempt to trade off New Zealand's honey success.

A University of Technology Sydney report released yesterday referred to the Australian variety as manuka and said it matched its New Zealand counterpart in fighting bacteria.

The report's authors claimed the findings meant Australian manuka producers are now well placed to become more recognised in the manuka honey market.

Manuka honey (generic)

New Zealand manuka honey producers say Australians shouldn't be using the Māori word for their product. Photo: 123RF

But the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association said it was not right to call the Australian variety manuka.

Association spokesperson John Rawcliffe said Australia's honey had been known by other names in the past.

"The history is quite clear on Australia.

"They called their's jellybush and tea tree," he said. "They've clearly stated so in the press previously.

"Now they've flip-flopped, so for a consumer I think that is confusing and misleading."

He said the researchers in Australia were now using the Māori word because it was more lucrative and well known internationally.

"So they've seen this reputation ... built up around New Zealand honey and quite frankly they are passing it off and it's as simple as that."

The Australian research focussed on the presence of methylglyoxal, the compound known to give the New Zealand manuka its antibacterial qualities.

High levels of it were found in the Australian samples.

One of the study's authors, Dr Nural Cokcetin, said the findings put Australian manuka honey on the international radar at a time when antibiotic resistance is becoming a global crisis.

Dr Cokcetin said she hoped Australian producers were able to start getting more money for their products on the back of the report.

The New Zealand manuka honey industry has surged in the last year, growing by 45 percent to more than $280 million dollars.

New Zealand is now the third largest exporter of honey by value.

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