Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says a definition for mānuka honey will safeguard the industry from cowboy operators and protect New Zealand’s trade reputation.
The definition, released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries, is derived from testing on hundreds of plants and honey samples.
Honey will be tested for five markers – four chemical and one DNA – before it can be sold overseas as mānuka.
“This is an important step in safeguarding the value of our mānuka trade and our reputation for selling high-quality products that are what they say they are,’’ says Mr O'Connor.
“Our trade partners and consumers in many countries want to know they are getting the real deal and this definition will provide them that assurance. If we didn’t introduce this standard then other countries may have forced one on us.’’
He says the standard will ensure the industry grows in a sustainable way.
“MPI has very recently filed charges against a company and two persons alleging offences in relation to adulteration of honey,” Mr O’Connor says. “The definition will help stop that kind of activity, which undermines our reputation across the whole food export chain.’’
Mr O’Connor says the definition is based on robust scientific work, which was peer reviewed by international experts.
“While there is debate within the honey industry about the best way to define mānuka, there is no argument that a definition is required to protect the honey’s long-term export trade.
“I ask the industry to keep working with us to protect this valuable product and ensure its future.’’