Mānuka honey

Mānuka honey is a premium product that has grown steadily as a high-value export for New Zealand. Find out some of the ways we’re working with industry to ensure the integrity of honey products.

Making sure it's authentic New Zealand honey

Our reputation for honey production and export rests on the integrity of our products and the credibility of our systems. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is dedicated to ensuring that consumers get authentic New Zealand honey. To achieve this, we're:

  • working with overseas regulators
  • providing official assurances
  • withholding official assurance for non-compliance
  • developing a robust science-based definition for monofloral mānuka honey.

Strengthening the rules for exporting

In 2014, MPI and industry developed an interim guide to meet legislative labelling requirements for mānuka honey. Following the release of the interim guide, MPI worked closely with industry to assist with required label changes. On 1 January 2015, MPI began withholding Official Assurances for non-compliant product labels.

For further information, download the:

Before developing the interim labelling guidelines, we analysed a large amount of data to try to identify the unique and stable characteristics of mānuka honey. MPI produced a report – Science and characterising mānuka honey: Current and future science to support a definition.

Download the science report [PDF, 375 KB]

In December 2015, MPI consulted on proposals to introduce some regulatory measures to further strengthen the official assurances framework for bee products that are exported to countries that require an official assurance. The consultation closed on 17 December and we are working through the submissions and feedback.

Mānuka Honey Science Programme

MPI is leading and managing a science programme to develop a robust, science-based definition for monofloral mānuka honey. This work will ensure consumers, overseas regulators, and industry can continue to have confidence in the authenticity of mānuka honey products.

Science programme update – February 2017

  • The programme has developed criteria and test methods for identifying New Zealand mānuka honey using both chemicals in the honey and DNA from mānuka pollen.
  • MPI is working with commercial laboratories to ensure that when we share the science findings, they can accurately and reliably test honey for companies. While this is happening, we are taking elements of the definition through additional external, independent review. This is expected to take about 8 weeks.
  • After this work, MPI will consult with the sector on how this definition will be applied through changes to the requirements for export honey.

Previous programme updates

Getting clarity about the definition of mānuka honey

There is no agreed scientific definition for monofloral mānuka honey, so this work will provide clarity about the characteristics of monofloral mānuka honey when sold as a food.

MPI has committed significant resource to lead the science programme over the past 3 years. We have a dedicated science team that oversees the programme's design and undertakes independent technical review of all results produced.

Next steps

  • Publish a summary science report, including the analysis to determine a definition of mānuka honey.
  • Run public consultation on proposals to implement the mānuka honey definition and other measures to support honey authenticity through a General Requirement for Export (GREX).
  • Finalise the GREX as soon as possible after consultation. We anticipate there will be a transition period before the GREX requirements come into force.

History of developing a definition

Consultation on defining mānuka honey

In 2013, MPI consulted widely on options for defining monofloral mānuka honey.

We received 72 submissions in response to the consultation – from beekeepers, honey producers, exporters, scientists, and others with an interest in mānuka honey:

Mānuka honey industry meetings

Following the consultation, we met with about 80 representatives of the industry. At the meeting MPI agreed to establish industry and science working groups to further the work needed to create the interim labelling guidelines.

For more details on how this work evolved, you can read the notes from the initial meeting with industry and the subsequent working groups .

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have any questions or would like more information about the MPI Manuka Honey Science Programme, email manuka.honey@mpi.govt.nz

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