New Zealand Manuka honey science definition announced

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Yesterday (11 April 2017) the New Zealand Government’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released their proposal for a new official definition of Mānuka honey. The science definition intends to certify NZ origin for Mānuka honey exported from NZ and, in doing so set the foundation for the next 10+ years of industry growth.

We welcome the government’s work to more clearly classify genuine NZ-origin. It is critical that New Zealand protects Mānuka honey on the global market, where we see increasing adulteration and false claims of this highly valued product.  

We need to remember that there are two key criteria to assess genuine Mānuka honey 1. NZ origin and 2. Efficacy Rating. The science definition intends to achieve a certification of New Zealand origin.

MPI’s science definition has defined a set of five science-based markers that will identify the origin of Mānuka honey. These markers will need to be present Mānuka honey to call it New Zealand Mānuka honey. Only honeys that meet the new standards will achieve the export certification enabling export of Mānuka honey from New Zealand (General Requirement for Export Notice - or GREX).

The efficacy (grading) systems remain unchanged by the origin definition work. MGO (methylglyoxal) remains the lead measure of Mānuka honey’s grading and, as a rating system, remains important in helping consumers purchase Mānuka honey.

What will happen next?

MPI has released the science definition for consultation with the industry for the next six weeks. Manuka Health is playing a key role in an “expert sector team” lead by the industry body Apiculture New Zealand. This team will assess the science definition alongside the practicalities of commercial operation, assessing its potential effectiveness on behalf of the whole industry.

At the end of the consultation period, MPI is likely to give a “change-window” of three months to commence testing for the new definition markers alongside existing tests. Once it comes into enforcement, likely 31 July 2017, new export certifications will be issued against achieving the origin testing results (GREX).

We are confident that we will be able to manage any changes required to our protocols. The processes and systems we have in place are best-in-class and we have preparing for this work for a long time. We will manage these changes to ensure it remains a smooth transition for our distributors and customers, and has minimal disruption to consumers.

This is a positive step forward for our industry, to defend and grow the potential for a $1.2 billion industry.  It is very encouraging to see the industry coming close together at this time to ensure we are building a more focussed, effective and visionary industry that will add growth and value to New Zealand’s agribusiness export portfolio.

You can view details of the definition and standard here.