While some industries in New Zealand are seeing a downturn—dairy and energy in particular—the Manuka honey industry finds itself growing still and attracting even more interest and investment. One company brand new to the business, run by entrepreneurs Brett and Linda Mascull, has set up shop in Taranaki, NZ to create a beekeeping and honey extraction operation to rival competition and bring growth to the area. As per the growth Manuka honey has seen recently, the Masculls established themselves after selling their dairy feeds company, and after merely one trial year, they’ve proudly proclaimed their product their ‘liquid gold,’ which they sell domestically and export all the way to China and France.
“We’re not a one-season wonder,” Brett said. “We not only have our own land, beekeepers, and beehives but also our own factory to extract the honey.” The company bought two 865-acre properties in eastern Taranaki backcountry where wild Manuka flourishes—one in Omoana, the other in the Tangahoe Valley on the shores of Lake Rotorangi, where the 1300 hives on those lands are managed by contract beekeepers. “We’re trying to do a double Manuka flow,” Brett said. “Manuka flowers earlier in Northland and on the East Cape, so when it’s finished there we shift the hives to Taranaki, which has the last flow in the North Island,” given Taranaki’s flowering season from January to March occurs later than other regions.
As a way of bringing even more stores than beyond what the company has, Brett allows beekeepers from other provinces to bring their hives to Taranaki to collect Manuka honey and then have the honey leave the province (in itself a sense of marketing). Despite the hives belonging to non-contract beekeepers, Brett still wanted the honey extracted in Taranaki, so he therefore established a state-of-the art extraction plant run by his son Tyson during the short four-month flowering season.
Brett estimates roughly 50 beekeepers from other areas in Bay of Plenty and Northland bring their hives to Taranaki to collect and extract Manuka honey. Of the arrangement, Brett has said, “It worked well that we’re set up for contract extraction. I’ll also trade honey from other beekeepers any time.” In its first season alone, the planted and wild Manuka yielded 60,000 kilograms of honey from more than 4,000 honey boxes—a feat not to be taken lightly.
After much time dedicated to perfecting planting, raising bees, extracting honey, and even just gaining the trust of other beekeepers as contractors, the Manuka honey gathered thus far by the Masculls has produced exceptional quality honeys with quite a few varieties after only just one year in business. It has provided much hope for the future, in which the Masculls want to grow their hive numbers and extract a broader range of honeys, such as rewa rewa, clover, and kamahi, to high end markets all over the world—not bad for a company fresh out of the gate.