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Emissary

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Emissary last won the day on June 28 2019

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About Emissary

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  1. We used to have a single desk seller. It was the NZ Honey Marketing Authority, formed in 1952 in the aftermath of WWII. The NZHMA finally turned into the NZ Honey Producer's Coop in 1982, but gave up single desk selling on a number of honey products before. Comb honey I think was never controlled, but honeydew was the first opened up in the '70s. All other export controls were lifted by 1982. This graph is a good indicator of the NZHMA's effectiveness - or rather lack it. The divergence of prices after the 70s was due to effective market diversification by many exporters exploring every available niche.
  2. Ahhhh.... "the palest ink is better that the best memory".... some Chinese dude But then I looked..... the 50 million spores per litre was from one of two papers to have researched this - from 1932. The other was from 1994 and came up with the 5 million figure but the level of detection available at the time using plating methods was 20 million. MAF used the 50 million figure when they did their Import Risk Assessment on the importation of Australian honey in 2005. In a practical sense these are semantics, but of historical interest. The take home message is - clinical symptoms of AFB mean there are enough spores to make all the honey on the hive infectious. The implication is that if you are extracting honey from such a hive, the combs will be infectious to any hive you put them back on. If AFB turns up sporadically in your outfit with no apparent source, then the most likely source is you having extracted from a hive with AFB. You should inspect the hive for AFB before removing any material that will end up in another hive. Honey, brood, pollen etc.
  3. From the memory banks..... Minimum infective dose is 50,000,000 AFB spores per litre of honey. Sounds a lot.... but one infected larvae is expected to produce 2-3 billion spores. Enough to infect 56 - 84 kilos of honey. A "light" AFB infection of "a few" cells of AFB diseased larvae has easily enough spores to contaminate an entire hive's honey crop.
  4. $2.85 was not a price you would have received for North Island honey from the Coop in 1999. For North Island suppliers, grades 3, 4, 7 and 10 was more the norm - $2.70, $2.45, $2.30 and $2.45 respectively. Average $2.48 per kilo. And then you only got 80% of that paid out over that year so $1.98 - the rest 5 years later - if you chose to not support the requests for further capital. Bottom line, $3.04 in today's money. And way better than $1.50 in the 1987 crash. But the 1987 crash was caused by the World market taking a huge correction as the USA dumped 100,000 tonnes (their total annual crop back then) onto the World market at US$0.39 cents per pound down from their US$0.67 per lb subsidy loan scheme price. Today our low prices are a reflection of a slightly reduced World price and our internal manuka bubble aftermath. Until the large surpluses of bulk honey start to move to the export market, there will be no significant improvement. As of the January export statistics, more than 87% of our honey exports are still being sold as manuka. If you're in it for the long haul, you can expect the World market to rise again to around $4-$5 returns. In the mean time honey that is in storage is aging, much "tempered" manuka honey has higher (and increasing) levels of HMF and there is no traditional market for these products against which advice based on history can be offered. We're in uncharted territory.
  5. A reality check for those with rose tinted memories. Here is the payout schedule of the NZHPCoop. Taking the reserve bank inflation calculator https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/monetary-policy/inflation-calculator for the top line 0-9mm clover price (Cat 1) and calculating it for today's value using Quarter 2 in the relevant year you get the following values. 1995 $3.39 1996 $4.19 1997 $4.38 1998 $4.60 1999 $4.38 Points also needing consideration: The 0-9mm price was usually paid to very little honey (sometimes none at all, but a "price" was listed), most was in the 2,3 and 4 categories. Retentions of 20% held for 5 years were usual, at which point producers were encouraged to convert the retentions into shares. At times of high interest rates this presented a huge effect. And in the big crash in 1987 prices fell from $1.90 to $0.70 per kilo or $4.06 down to $1.50 in today's money. By comparison, we are in much better shape today.
  6. An interesting piece of research. https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/watch-the-use-of-certain-neonicotinoids-could-benefit-bumblebees-new-study-finds
  7. The US produces around 75,000 tonnes and imports nearly 200,000 tonnes annually. The Dakotas will often produce over half of the US honey crop, largely from "clover" (usually sweet clover) . So selecting an average of the Dakotas for domestic production would be a better figure to start with, but the US market is driven by the import price , and the numbers for total imports to YE September calculate to US$2.17/Kg or NZ$3.30/kg. Major supplying countries such as India, Ukraine and China are supplying at under US$2.00 per kilo (NZ$3.00)
  8. A very long time coming but finally a result. https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/man-fined-over-100-000-adding-chemicals-honey-in-bid-pass-off-m-nuka https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/112342524/mnuka-honey-fraud-evergreen-life-ltd-handed-260000-fine-for-adding-synthetics-to-its-product $372,500 in fines plus costs.
  9. There is no problem selling honey at the moment. There is a problem with the price. Before the manuka bubble, the one where people were selling all honey as manuka and frantically stockpilling (removing from the market) honey to increase its activity, New Zealand produced a surplus to the local market which consumed about 1.3 kilos per person per year. Since the export market was the only outlet for this surplus honey, it set the price. Why? Because who would choose to sell on the export market when the local market was better, but in order to get a share of that, one had to....... reduce the price..... and the incumbents on the local market would reduce their price to match.... so a sprial down until..... the export market was a viable alternative. Ergo, the export market sets the price. A review of the export statistics shows that over 90% of the honey leaving the country is sold as manuka. Less than 10% is non manuka. We used to have export markets for things like clover and honeydew and occasionally other named sources that would maximise the opportunites available. These would return 20-30% above generic prices on the World market and specific honeys such as Clover and Honeydew would return prices similar to competing countries with similar honeys such as Canada, Argentina and Turkey. However now we have 3 times the number of hives, an annual surplus of production over markets of 100,000+ tonnes, a current surplus of somewhere between 30 and 40,000 tonnes of honey that has been produced hoping it is (once "was") manuka with the result it is a multitude of blended honeys with no traditional export market. So we can sell this surplus. But the price is not good. Ukraine produced approx 70,000 tonnes last year, as of January had 45,000 tonnes in stock and has reduced this to 10,000 tonnes with the new crop about to start. The price? 1,800 Euros delivered to Europe with duty (17.3% into the EU) to be paid, and US$1,900 CIF USA destinations. This is around NZ$3.00 and NZ $2.85 respectively. Canada is selling at US$2,800 delivered US destinations (drive it across the border) or NZ$ 4.20 landed there. Turkey is selling into EU destinations at NZ$4.45 delivered. Usually these transacations have a few percent commission along the way, plus freight and you lose your drums. Take around 50c off these prices. Until we have a shortage of supply in the country, there will be no change to this outcome where the World price sets the price paid to producers. If a new entrant were to come into the market, and focused on the local market (usually because it's easier than exporting and marketing overseas), this would simply ensure that the price locally collapsed to the World level more quickly as the incumbents locally defended the attack on their markets, and the $4.00-$5.00 per kilo plus prices being paid would reduce closer to the World market. The only way out of our present situation (one that we have always dealt with except during the manuka bubble) is to sell at higher prices on the export market. Around 20 new packing plants (with 100 tonnes or more capacity, some with 1,000+ tonnes) have gone into NZ in the last 15 years. All of these have been trying to create export markets for their products and most have considerable expertise in doing this. A History Lesson In 1982 the New Zealand Honey Marketing Authority (a producer board) had total right of export for all honey from New Zealand (except for honeydew and comb honey). They had the market leader (Hollands) on the local market plus numerous other brands. Because government was no longer prepared to fund their activities (they had close to $1 million of reserve bank funds at 1% interest), a proposal was put forward to create a cooperative. This cooperative was sold all the assets of the HMA including 3 factories and all their stocks at a significant undervaluing, and then $600,000 (2.4 million in today's value) of the sale monies were lent back to them, 300,000 at 9% and 300,000 at 3% (interest rates at the time were over 15%). The model included beekeepers additioanlly buying $1 shares (for each kilo of supply) and then having retentions (20% and sometimes 30% or their "sales" to the Coop) held back for 5 years - at 15% interest rates your money halves in value in 5 years. After 5 years they were asked to turn those into "Capital" i.e. pay for more shares. So they had the factories, the brands, the suppliers, the infrastructure, the NZ market leading products on the domestic market and the entire history of export markets from NZ. There were many capable people employed by the coop along the way and on the board. Some went on to have extremely successful businesses of their own. Laid out like this, one would think there was no way they could fail. After 30 years they were sold to Comvita for pretty much the value of their honey stocks. Comvita attempted to sell Hollands honey on the local market, and even after rebranding and applying their marketing expertise, finally withdrew from the domestic market. It is tough out there. Sorry, typo that I missed. "an annual surplus of production over markets of 100,000+ tonnes" should read 10,000 tonnes.
  10. Hong Kong's poplulation is 7.5 million. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-hong-kong-sar-population/ Per capita consumption is about 50g per person for 3,750 tonnes annual consumption.
  11. For you that follow the neonic story, and the science rather than the rhetoric, this is a good read. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/06/05/how-npr-washington-post-bloomberg-and-other-media-botched-reporting-on-epas-ban-of-12-bee-killing-neonicotinoid-insecticides/?mc_cid=8a9a6d5d02&mc_eid=ae5a80e8bc
  12. Karyne Rogers tested over 700 samples of "pasture" honey and virtually none failed the C4 test. The circumstance of feeding right up to the flow waiting for the hive to become self sufficient is common or routine, and certainly not peculiar to manuka production. Strong hives quickly starve without feed, and broken weather can cause that in less time than it takes to get round your operation. So why do only manuka samples fail? This quote from the orignal paper "Honey Protein as Internal Standard for Stable Carbon Isotope Ratio Detection of Adulteration of Honey" JONATHANW. WHITE, KENNETH WINTERS is perhaps an explanation as to why all those pasture samples passed. "Before a honey flow, particularly in early spring, it is common practice to built up colony strength by feeding sugar syrup; HFCS as well as sucrose or invert sugar is used. The protein (enzymes) added by the bees to stores during this period would reflect the isotopic composition of that feed." (sic) This implies that the C13 signature of the bees and their protein moves to that of the carbohydrate feed (in this case C4 sugars) and thus not produce a "fail". I have some question about this hypothesis because the protein from bees is mostly produced from their pollen source and not the carbohydrate source. Perhaps in metabolising the protein, they are incorporating C13 from the supplemenatry feed. Another consideration is the dilution effect. Bees consume 90-95% of the carbohydrates they collect annually. So a hive producing 30kgs of honey (national average) will have collected and consumed an additional 270-570 kgs of carbohydrate - including sugar fed syrup. 5 - 10 kilos of sugar is a small proportion of that amount. It would seem that non manuka honey has always passed and manuka routinely fails. And the manuka is known to fail from the DHA/MG mechanism. I'm not saying you couldn't do something to make non manuka fail with prodigious amounts of sugar feeding on a flow, but the question here is about fails with "normal" beekeeping practises. If you feed your bees with a safety margin of sugar right up to a flow like most all do in the country (and the US), then for non manuka you are very unlikely to have a problem. For manuka you will have a problem regardless of your sugar feeding regime. And likely more of a problem with more sugar feeding, but why this is exactly is not well understood.
  13. Actually the original research on this by Johnathon White determined this relationship by blending known concentrations of C3 and C4 sugars and measuring the differences between the protein C13 levels and the blended honey and C4 sugar values. The calculations in the current method are based on this calibration work and are not a result of the actual measurements. In the real World there is some significant difference at times between the protein C13 and total honey C13 ratios, the most obvious is when the measurements deliver a negative value for C4 sugars. Different C3 plants can have a wide range of C13 values and this is enough of a range for the single C13 measurement to be of little value for spotting adulteration. e.g. a 50:50 blend of some C3 and C4 sugars could pass as a C3 signature. Hence the development of using the protein as an internal standard. The original paper posits that the protein in honey is mostly enzymes from the bees, and the bees have fed on the same source material that the nectar is produced from, so this protein should have the same C13 signature as the nectar/honey. Over a whole season of honey production this is likely to be mostly true, but for crops in the early spring like manuka, the bees have fed and grown on pollen prior to the manuka nectar flow that may have a different C13 signature. And Karyne Rogers showed (The Unique Manuka Effect: Why New Zealand Manuka Honey Fails the AOAC 998.12 C‑4 Sugar Method) that when you added DHA to clover honey, the C13 signature of the protein (the internal standard) changed with time. It is probable that the MG in the resulting mix chopped up some of the protein. This meant that the apparent C4 sugars increased, i.e. an impossibility and thus an artifact and failure of the test. But because economic adulteration of honey by other syrups is (in some quarters) considered the number one problem causing an oversupply of honey in the World, don't expect the C4 sugar test (SCIRA - Stable Carbon Isotope Ratio Analysis) to be cast on the scrap heap any time soon.
  14. " A market downturn has had a significant impact on the profitability of many beekeeping businesses and some rationalisation is expected over the next year, Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos says. " https://www.odt.co.nz/rural-life/rural-life-other/volumes-rise-price-honey-drops
  15. The problem the new standard is trying to solve, is that the research found that there is a much larger amount of unmeasured tutin bound up in an oligosaccharide than the free tutin that is measured by the current test method. The current regulation is on the free tutin, there is no calculation for the bound tutin in the current reg. On ingestion the free tutin contributes to a rise in serum levels in a few hours, whereas the bound tutin only starts to cause a [much larger] rise after digestion of the oligosaccharides in the lower intestine 18 or more hours after ingestion. The ratio of these two sources of tutin in the honey also varies and may change over time. So testing for free tutin (as happens now) does not give an accurate value for the bound and thus total tutin. Since the testing for both sources would significantly increase the cost of testing, and not necessarily significantly reduce the uncertainty in a very complex system of dose rate, body weights, time of absorbtion, metabolism rates etc., MPI opted for a reduced limit. Perhaps in the future, methodology could be developed that measures both sources of tutin and a new limit expressing total tutin (bound and free) could established. This would be a considerable expense that may not be warranted if the current method/systes working. In the history of recorded tutin poisonings, bulk honey has only contributed to one significant poisoning. All the rest have been caused by comb honey. Since comb honey is completely non homogenous, it is arguable that even testing for levels at the limit of detection in one part of a comb may give little assurance that another part of the comb has been filled with tutu honeydew. In a World that requires near absolute safety of food, the uncertainty and risk of tutin in comb honey is "problematic".
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