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As an industry I feel we often do things that are somewhat shortsighted and definitely not in the interests of the New Zealand Honey industry or New Zealand INC. We struggle to be united on what is good for the industry and the future of NZ Manuka. The protection of the name 'Manuka' is paramount. We must at least unite on this? It has to be a little alarming when you read articles such as this? Inside the trans-Tasman battle for manuka honey Is it Aussie or Kiwi? That's the sticky question. Feature 25 Mar 2019, 2:23 pm Kylie Purcell Senior Digital Journalist, Your Money For years, New Zealand has proudly claimed manuka honey as its own. However, the question over whether manuka honey should be the sole trademark of New Zealand is now a matter of contention between the country and its close neighbour Australia. The word ‘manuka’ itself is of Māori origin, so it makes sense that New Zealand has a claim to its origin. But the chief executive of Australia’s iconic Capilano Honey brand has a different idea that is likely to ruffle a few kiwi feathers. Ben McKee, who is described by private equity investor Albert Tse as having a “PhD in honey”, thinks that manuka honey was first produced in Australia. “We’ve got 83 species of manuka in Australia, they’ve only got one species in New Zealand,” he told TICKY on the sidelines of the Global Food Forum 2019 on Wednesday. “They have done a great job of marketing it, I’ll give them that. But as for the name, we’ve been calling honey ‘manuka’ here since the early 1900s, so it’s not as though we’ve just jumped on the bandwagon.” “We’ve got the healthiest bees in the world and the best floral diversity in the world.” The company is undergoing a re-brand under health and wellness in a move that is clearly targeted towards the Chinese market. Honey is widely considered to have positive health benefits in China. Manuka honey is particularly popular among Chinese tourists, and New Zealand has worked hard to build its reputation as a premier source of it. In a bid to take a bigger slice of the market, Capilano has partnered up with New Zealand’s largest manuka company Comvita to expand manuka production within Australia. Its next move is to develop new kinds of honey varieties specifically targetting the Chinese market.
A number of my friends and colleagues are aware that I started beekeeping a year ago. They are also aware that Manuka honey sells for a fair price. It seems like every week someone says to me “hey we’ve got Manuka near us, I’m thinking of getting some bees and selling Manuka honey, how would I do that”. While I don’t like bursting bubbles, I find myself outlying the typical things, like... you can’t fence in or out bees, bees might just prefer to go to plants other than Manuka, commercial kitchen requirement etc. Is this just an occupational hazard that comes with being a beekeeper?