Natural health and beauty products firm Comvita has bought its fourth apiary business to help secure supply and manage costs.
The firm has acquired Whanganui-based Kiwi Honey, which has 3500 beehives throughout the region.
Comvita, which sells its products in more than 18 countries, bought two apiaries at the end of last year and another in 2008.
Chief executive Brett Hewlett says Kiwi Honey has been supplying it with high quality manuka honey for more than 20 years.
He says owning the business will give it additional security of supply and is strategically important as the Whanganui region is known for its production of UMF (unique manuka factor) honey.
Mr Hewlett says the purchase will provide security of supply as demand rises, but his firm doesn't envisage ever owning all its own beehives.
"We still value very much the important relationship that we have with our contractor beekeepers," he says.
Comvita expects to get about a third of its honey from its own apiaries in the coming season.
Mr Hewlett says sales in Britain remain flat due to economic uncertainty, but Asia is performing well.