The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released a scientific definition to authenticate New Zealand mānuka honey, which is essential to maintaining New Zealand mānuka honey's premium position in overseas markets.
The definition is part of a consultation package released today setting out proposed new requirements for the export of bee products.
"The proposed definition and export requirements are important for the continued growth of our important export honey industry," says Deputy Director-General, Bryan Wilson.
"Working with contracted experts, MPI has undertaken a 3-year programme to provide a science-based definition that can determine whether or not honey is authentic New Zealand mānuka honey," he says.
"Our science programme has been carefully planned and executed and as a result the definition is robust, sophisticated and accurate," Mr Wilson said.
"This is important because questions have been raised in overseas markets about the authenticity of some honey being sold as New Zealand mānuka honey.
"It is important that overseas regulators have confidence in the assurances we give them about New Zealand mānuka honey, and that consumers in those countries are confident they are getting the real deal. If not, our access to markets could be put a risk or we may lose the premium price which our bee products command overseas."
The definition uses 5 attributes (4 chemicals and a DNA marker) that, when present in honey at specified levels, provide clear evidence that the honey is New Zealand mānuka honey.
"It is important that a cross section of people from the apiculture industry, and the public, have their say on these proposals," Mr Wilson said.
Consultation on the proposals starts on Tuesday 11 April 2017 at 4pm and closes on Tuesday 23 May 2017 at 5pm.
MPI is aiming to bring the new requirements into effect in late July 2017.