Press Release – New Zealand Government
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced consultation has begun to define manuka honey to enable truth in labelling.Hon Nikki Kaye
Minister for Food Safety
12 September 2013 Media Statement
Minister announces manuka honey consultation
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced consultation has begun to define manuka honey to enable truth in labelling.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be asking the honey industry, scientists and other interested stakeholders for their say through this consultation process,” Ms Kaye says.
“The New Zealand honey industry has been working for many years to come up with an accurate way to label, market and brand manuka honey and unfortunately has been unable to reach consensus. There is no international standard for a definition of manuka honey.
“Recently, the authenticity of some New Zealand manuka honey has been queried in overseas markets. This puts the integrity of our country’s export reputation at risk and so steps need to be taken to ensure consumer confidence.
“It is important that New Zealand manuka honey label claims are correct and can be substantiated by science.
“This is something the New Zealand Government takes very seriously as honey is an important food export, worth about $NZ120 million per year. There are high consumer expectations both here and overseas that what is said on the label is accurate.
“The outcome of the consultation will be developed into draft labelling guidelines that will be tested with industry before they are finalised and published. This will effectively mean that in the short-term there will be a voluntary labelling regime.
“The guidelines will be the first step to providing clarity for industry, consumers and our trading partners.
“I have asked MPI to look at potential regulatory options and the impacts of those options. If there is regulation, that will mean compulsory labelling requirements for manuka honey. This is something that will take several months to work through.
“I understand the potential impact to industry of these changes and it is my intention to work with Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and the relevant government agencies to look at possible further support in science investment and branding.
“Food systems are based on trust and integrity and that is why after several years of discussion it is time for clarity on this issue for our trading partners and consumers,” Ms Kaye says.
The consultation document can be found at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-resources/publications.aspx
FAQs on manuka honey
What is the export value of the New Zealand honey industry?
New Zealand honey exports are reportedly worth about $NZ120 million a year
Where is it exported to?
Canada, Australia, USA, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore and Europe.
Where are our biggest markets?
After the UK and Australia, Hong Kong is the largest market for New Zealand honey, with exports in 2011 worth $10.3 million. In the same year, exports to Singapore were worth $10 million and those to Japan $9.9 million.
Why is New Zealand’s manuka honey so sought after?
New Zealand manuka honey is the most expensive in the world and receives a significant premium over other honey products. It retails at pharmacies, high-end supermarkets and department stores, and a 500g jar sells for up to $NZ90 in the United Kingdom.
Manuka honey is reported to have non-peroxide antibacterial properties; this means it kills bacteria in a different and arguably better way than other honeys.
The non-peroxide antibacterial activity is due to the presence of methylglyoxal (MG).
Some debate exists over appropriate ways to market products with MG and the appropriate tests that should be applied. Any definition must make sense to a reasonable consumer and be evidence-based. .
How long is the consultation period?
The consultation period is for three weeks and closes on 30 September 2013.
The discussion paper outlines three options for defining manuka honey. The paper asks number of questions and MPI is calling for data and information from the honey industry and others to help decide on the best option.
How do industry members make a submission?
The consultation document contains a series of questions and people are asked to comment on these. All answers will be sent to email: email@example.com
What are the next steps?
A draft guideline will be released in October. There will be opportunity to comment on this before final guidelines are issued in late October. However, guidelines cannot be enforced so it may be necessary to implement the guidelines via a regulatory tool. Once the guidelines have been issued, MPI will undertake a regulatory analysis and impact assessment and talk with overseas regulators to decide if regulations are necessary. This process will take approximately three months