It seems as though Manuka honey is growing in popularity every day. While this honey has been a favorite of New Zealander’s for some time, it has grown exponentially popular over the last decade around the world. However, with all of this newfound popularity comes problems, such as theft and forgery. With Manuka honey becoming a very popular import in China, the government would like more clarification as to what is and what is not considered raw Manuka honey.
One of the major challenges is that the industry itself is not always clear about what constitutes Manuka honey. While there is a label in place as well as UMF ratings, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is looking to address the concerns of countries like China regarding the actual definition of Manuka honey. An MPI adviser, Jim Sims, recently stated, “Our end game is putting a definition into some legislation.”
With the honey becoming so popular in China, it is no wonder its government is very concerned about forgeries crossing its borders. We actually mentioned a report here earlier in the year that cited a higher consumption rate of Manuka honey in the UK than what was actually produced. With this being only one country, forgery is a reality that must be dealt with if the industry is going to maintain its integrity.
As countries like China continue to increase demand for Manuka honey, the price is expected to continue to rise, especially with the colony collapse disorder problem still ongoing. In addition to the CCD, there is also a major problem of theft in the industry. Beekeepers are arriving at their hives only to see open spaces, a problem that if not addressed soon, will also raise the price of Manuka honey.
In the meantime, the MPI has created an “interim” definition and labeling standard for Manuka honey, but this has also presented some challenges. Said Jim Sims, “We know by creating this definition we’ve also created a new class of honey. We have seen a few jars labelled as ‘Manuka-type honey’. Nobody is happy with this interim definition. We’re not happy with it, you’re not happy with it, and overseas regulators are not happy with it. We are not going to enforce it. All we are saying is on the data we have available, this is the best we can do at this point in time.”
This is a problem for the industry that is not going to go away anytime soon. Its growing popularity demands action be taken, and soon. In the meantime, when you are purchasing Manuka honey, make sure you are using reputable vendors, like ManukaHoneyUSA.com!