The challenge of defining honey true to label

Airborne Honey has been owned and operated by the Bray family in South Canterbury for generations. It is one of the world’s most scientifically advanced honey companies with a deep practical knowledge of varietal characteristics…

We operate an in-house laboratory and proprietary, fit-for-purpose software to analyse product samples and capture all facets of the product as it flows through the Airborne process. Airborne products routinely have the lowest level of heat damage in the New Zealand market, as measured in our laboratory.

This low heat damage is due to our patented heating process for honey, which applies the bare minimum required. We have also developed the capability to trace product from a batch number back to each individual apiary (site of hives) in order to provide transparency and substantiate our integrity that what we say is what we do. Providing evidence, along with harnessing the latest technology to further refine the measurement and parameters of different honeys, is how we intend to uphold our reputation for selling honey that is true to label and undamaged by heat. Our reputation for authenticity and ethical marketing has been built over the course of a century. It is at the heart of our business and we protect it fiercely, even at the risk of running counter to what our industry colleagues in New Zealand are doing and saying – particularly when it comes to selling poly floral honey blends as authentic Manuka to extract a premium because of its purported wellbeing benefits.

It’s an embarrassment for New Zealand Inc. that 80% (or 8,000 tonnes) of all its honey exports are labelled as genuine Manuka honey, when Manuka production is only at 1,700 – 3,000 tonnes per annum. You can work it out for yourself what consumers are likely to be buying – and paying the price in more ways than one. While New Zealand is a signatory to the Codex Alimentarius honey standard, there are no robust Codex based honey standards in Australia and New Zealand. Even blended honey can be sold as the real deal Manuka – the really expensive and much vaunted honey. Manuka honey standards are currently being worked on by the New Zealand government, which is undertaking a two-year science project, but the new regulations that were expected at the end of 2016 are, at this point, still pending. It is worth noting, however, that the government has said publicly that the key chemical markers – DHA, MG or Leptosperin – promoted by the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) Honey Association, will not be part of the Manuka standard for good scientific reasons.

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2 responses to “The challenge of defining honey true to label”

  1. Chris says:

    Interestingly the hive sites are personal property of a beekeeper and their exact location is kept ‘confidential’. Hive sites are registered on a database under a strategy for pest management for American Foulbrood. For a variety of reasons, both positive and negative, I am not sure waiving your rights to confidentiality on the apiary register is that wise. Traceability is one thing – but the manuka debacle is hitting NZ hard. Not because the manuka honey is ‘fake’ but that the people who cut and blend the product to maximum financial advantage are doing what people always do – profit take.

  2. Annie says:

    Pollen does not define Manuka Honey, anyone who knows anything about Manuka honey knows that the flower for Manuka and Kanuka (Non Manuka) has the same pollen profile.

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