4 Mar 2014

Comvita buys sixth regional apiary

8:13 am on 4 March 2014

Honey and natural health products company Comvita has taken another step towards its goal of owning half of its own honey supply.

A bee working on a honey comb in a beehive.

Photo: PHOTO NZ FILE

It has bought the apiary business of Hastings' Hawke's Bay Honey as it looks to strengthen its supply of sought-after Manuka honey.

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett said it had six regional apiary operations spread through the North Island and had doubled its hives to 23,000 in two years.

Mr Hewlett said the main advantage of owning supply was to have more control over the rapidly escalating costs of obtaining manuka honey.

"Manuka honey is very highly sought after, and that's creating tremendous demand but it's also creating a real supply shortage here in New Zealand, and we're now having to compete for the purchase of that raw material product.

"Over the last three successive years we've seen price increases of between 20 and 50 percent, compounded year on year, so that's led to a tripling and even a quadrupling of the overall cost of the raw material compared to what we had a number of years ago."

Comvita expected to be getting about 40 percent of its honey supply from its own hives by next season, Mr Hewlett said.