Member’s update – November 2012

Member’s update – November 2012


  • honey industry report shows potential and highlights need for action
  • Auckland seminar
  • fair trading
  • New Zealand’s Unique Biodiversity


The Food and Beverage Information Project is the first comprehensive overview of the state of New Zealand’s food and beverage (F&B) industry.

The five-year project analyses the main sectors in F&B, such as processed foods, dairy, and seafood, as well as providing an overview of how the industry is faring in our major markets. The information will be regularly updated and will be a vital tool for companies looking to expand and export.

Honey is included as part of this project and a report was issued in May this year entitled Investment opportunities in the New Zealand Honey industry.

Two instances of selling product not true to label and the need for bee protection have been highlighted in the report which also indicates Manuka honey has strong potential for continued growth. In order to achieve this however, major emerging issues need to be addressed.

The top four issues are:

  • bee diseases destroying bee population
  • counterfeiting
  • exaggerated claims (e.g. non-active being sold as active)
  • false claims bring disrepute on the industry

The UMF Honey Association, with its quality mark and drive to build the scientific foundations of the industry, has been working hard to address these issues.

UMF Honey Association Fair Trading Seminar

On 5 November the UMF Honey Association held a public seminar in Auckland attended by some 120 retailers. The seminar was run to ensure our leading retailers had all the latest information and clear understanding of their responsibilities to enable them to fully and accurately represent our unique product to consumers.

Commerce Commission representatives participated and worked through the requirements of The Fair Trading Act 1986. The two NZ laboratories that provide product testing services for this unique product also had representatives participating and outlined how any retailers could confirm the integrity of the product they were interested in retailing purchasing.

Fair Trading

The Fair Trading Act 1986 is clear that if the consumer is likely to be deceived this may be a breach of the Act, and any individual or company selling product in breach can be held liable. This is the basis for the UMFHA’s position, as outlined in the Chairperson’s Report in 2010, in which then Chairperson Neil Stuckey stated:

We still have the thorny issue of manuka honey with various descriptors being sold both by the industry in general but also by our own license holders. The Commerce Commission here in New Zealand and the equivalent regulatory authorities in other countries now have the ability to test product thru various labs using verified and certified tests, both bioassay and chemical. This ability will hopefully see an end to what I personally consider to be passing off and indeed ripping off the unsuspecting customer, especially those for whom English is a second language”

This means that for anyone – whether they be a contract manufacturer, marketer, distributor or retailer – selling Manuka honey using a number and any descriptor, if the consumer thinks that the product is likely to have the unique Manuka factor property as researched and reported in a significant body of international research, and it is shown to not test to the standard that they may be in breach of the Fair Trading Act 1986.