Manuka honey attracts a premium price but not all honey that claims to be manuka honey is and not all that is has the Unique Manuka factor (UMF).
Britain’s Food Standards Agency has issued a nationwide warning about misleading and illegal claims made on the labels of manuka honey jars,, in a worrying blow to the fast-growing Kiwi industry.
New Zealand manuka honey commands prices 10 to 20 times higher than other types of honey because of its unique and much-vaunted anti-bacterial properties. . . .
But tests by reputable UK, Chinese and Singaporean laboratories reveal many manuka honey products have none of the claimed active properties – some of the honey is not even manuka – prompting industry leaders to demand a crackdown on “potentially huge fraud”.
Some of the companies selling mislabelled honey are New Zealand producers and some are foreign. But even the most reputable New Zealand honey producers now face heightened surveillance in the UK. . .
Comvita, New Zealand’s biggest manuka honey producer with a market capitalisation of nearly $150 million, is demanding the industry be cleared of cowboys.
Chief operating officer Scott Coulter said pots of manuka honey labelled with meaningless numbers and certifications were designed to confuse customers who thought they were getting UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) accredited food and nutriceuticals with measurable health benefits. “You can put a number on any honey, and that is damaging to Comvita,” Coulter told the Herald on Sunday. “They can buy a 20+ honey thinking it is manuka and it is not. People will use it and not get any benefits and that damages the reputation of the product and the industry.”
John Rawcliffe, head of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, which represents 38 licensed manuka honey companies, acknowledged the UK crackdown was due.
“There is potentially huge fraud. There are higher and ever-increasing volumes of honey labelled as manuka which are not manuka,” he said. . .
In New Zealand, beekeepers are not waiting for authorities to clean up the industry. . .
There’s honey, manuka honey and manuka honey with the active properties which give it the UMF.
Having hives in or near maunka isn’t a guarantee that the honey the bees produce will have the certifiable levels of UMF.
If there’s gorse, clover or anything else bees prefer within flying distance they’ll ignore the manuka.
Even if manuka honey is produced it might not have the UMF.
False claims – accidental or deliberate – threaten a potentially lucrative industry.