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  1. Manuka definition http://mailchi.mp/e1835c19935a/apinz-member-update-manuka-1325813?e=bbae088400 Breaking news!!!!! Here’s an executive summary outlining the key points pertaining to the concerns around the Manuka definition put forward by MPI. “Meeting held to discuss MPI mānuka honey definition” From the CE – Karin Kos On Friday, 12 January, a meeting was held in Wellington and facilitated by the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) to discuss MPI’s definition on mānuka honey in Wellington. The meeting was co-hosted by key industry associations including Apiculture New Zealand. FOMA called the meeting in response to Māori and industry concerns in relation to MPI’s mānuka honey definition. The hui was well attended by a good representative cross section of our industry. While there will be a full set of minutes available, given the immediate interest in this issue I have summarised the key themes and actions, and outlined some matters below that members need to be aware of. Key themes from the day: Industry support for a regulatory definition There is widespread support for the requirement for a robust regulatory definition for mānuka honey – we all want a definition that will protect the authenticity of genuine mānuka honey and help facilitate growth in this premium market niche. Critically and as part of that though, the needs and interests of our markets and consumers need to be kept front and centre of any regulatory definition for mānuka honey. In addressing the issues with the current proposed definition it is critical that we (the wider industry, together with Māori) stay focused, maintain unity and move forward together as we work through the implications of the definition. Impact of the decision There is a significant economic impact which will need to be defined and quantified. This includes the immediate commercial impact on existing inventories, future values and revenue streams, but also how it affects the ongoing investment environment within, e.g., projected capital investment not taking place. We heard from Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) who are undertaking work for FOMA on the economic impact of the definition. It is critical that we assemble as much robust supply chain and value chain data to input into this process as we can. MPI did not undertake any comprehensive economic impact analysis into the outcomes of this decision, which should have been part of the process. MPI have likewise not undertaken any assessment of how this decision will impact on individual regions, or between seasons. For the longer term, there was general agreement that as a sector we need to get better at collecting economic information in order to be able to effectively tell our story. Reaction to the decision It is projected that the proposed definition will impact most directly on honey in the current multi-floral and blend part of the honey spectrum, but also cause outlier results or misclassification of some high purity mānuka through the DNA test Participants at the meeting expressed concerns that any such honey, whether genuine mānuka or not, would be exported in bulk for blending, packaging and labelling off-shore to avoid having to comply with the MPI definition. Independent science and better process There is an immediate need to get in front of Government and ask for an independent review of the science behind the proposed definition, and pause the decision until that review is completed. Over the long-term we reset the science process so that it is independent and works for industry and government. This could include building a national library of honey samples, a registry of peer reviewed and published science, and leading the world in best-practice science. The science behind identifying individual floral honey types is rapidly evolving and improving. The regulatory definition needs to be future proofed, to enable the definition to incorporate developments and improvements in science. Disappointment and frustration was experienced with the process that MPI has run to determine a scientific definition for mānuka honey, and we need much more transparent and genuinely consultative engagement. Mānuka honey and its importance to New Zealand The story of New Zealand mānuka honey, its cultural relevance and importance to Māori, along with the critical role it is expected to play in regional economic development, were highlighted at the meeting. This story needs to have political cut-through and be elevated to a wider Government audience. We have made significant progress in progressing initiatives to protect the word mānuka for genuine mānuka honey from New Zealand, following a landmark decision by the UK Trade Mark Registry to accept the term mānuka honey as being eligible for certification trademarking. This can as always be challenged by competitors as part of the next steps in the process and we are waiting to see who will be challenging the decision. Legal challenge to MPI decision At the meeting, a lawyer from Wynn Williams Lawyers presented on a proposal to challenge the definition that would involve applying to the Court for interim relief to suspend the Notice introducing the new definition for mānuka honey. Attached is the flier outlining the case. While we understand individual companies’ right to take legal action given the concerns that have been expressed by beekeepers and companies in relation to the new definition, as the industry body we will not be adding our name to this legal challenge. Our preference is always to find a way to work through the issues and consider the long-term view. It is also important that we continue to have an unhindered relationship with Government across all industry issues as we represent a wide mandate across commercial and non-commercial beekeepers, marketers and packers, and associated organisations. Next steps As the wider group of industry associations and FOMA, we will take a fully united approach to Government and ask for a pause in the implementation of this definition to allow for an independent review of the science. We are meeting MPI’s science team this week to help industry understand the rationale behind the decision to increase the 2-MAP marker threshold from 1 to 5. An independent Economic Impact Analysis, commissioned by FOMA, will get underway to better understand and demonstrate the impact on industry and get this in front of Government. The industry associations and FOMA will also follow up the meeting to discuss and implement any additional steps we may need to take both in the short term and longer term to build a more consistent, industry-led story.
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