Editorial: The sooner the sweeter for manuka guidelines

Clear and accurate labelling essential to protect this $150 million a year industry

The manuka honey industry is worth $150 million a year. Photo / Doug Sherring
The Ministry of Primary Industries says guidelines for the labelling of manuka honey are expected to be issued this month. They cannot come a moment too soon.
Overseas, there has been increasing condemnation of the selling of bogus manuka honey. This week, it reached a new level with the publication of an article headlined “The Great Manuka Honey Swindle” in Britain’s The Grocer magazine. If nothing is done to counter this criticism, overseas consumers will surely shy away from a product that speaks eloquently of New Zealand’s clean green image.
Already, the industry is worth $150 million a year. Endorsement of its healing qualities by the likes of Novak Djokovic, Katherine Jenkins and Scarlett Johansson has given it an international cachet. People are willing to pay substantial sums for its unique anti-bacterial properties, its rarity, and this country’s credentials. But that bright picture has been sullied by producers who, through misleading labelling, are passing their honey off as manuka.
Laboratory testing in Britain, Singapore and China has revealed the full extent of the counterfeiting.
The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association has campaigned for some time for clear and accurate labelling of the product. This has now become essential to uphold the integrity of the product and to ensure that reputable producers do not pay a heavy price for the activities of unscrupulous operators. As much was, in fact, evident almost a year ago when Britain’s Food Standards Agency issued a warning about manuka honey.
The Government must waste no further time before stepping in.
– NZ Herald 8:11 AM Saturday Jul 5, 2014

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