When we read that “New Zealand produces 1,700 tonnes of Manuka honey, but 10,000 tonnes are sold globally” (https://www.healthyfood.co.uk/know-real-manuka-honey/) it becomes clear that many consumers have been paying very high prices for a product which is anything but New Zealand Manuka honey.
Why is Manuka honey so rare?
Manuka honey comes from the nectar of the flower of the Manuka bush (leptospermum scoparium) which is native only to New Zealand. It is the special nectar and the bee that give Manuka honey its unique properties. Manuka grows in some of New Zealand’s most remote areas and its flowers only produce nectar for approximately 3-4 weeks a year. Not only must beekeepers transport hives long distances, into hard to access locations, but they must do so at just the right time to ensure the bees can source the Manuka nectar. Compounding the constrained supply problem is rapidly growing global demand – Manuka honey contains signature compounds not available in other types of honey and its unique properties are becoming understood by consumers around the world.
What is Manuka honey and what is not?
In December 2017, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) finalised a scientific definition that can be used to authenticate whether or not a particular honey is New Zealand Manuka honey. From February 2018, all honey labelled as “Manuka” for export from New Zealand must be tested by an MPI-recognised laboratory to make sure it meets the new Manuka honey definition.
Further customer protection is provided by the UMF™ Honey Association of New Zealand (www.umf.org.nz). Their UMF™ (Unique Manuka Factor™) grading system appraises additional natural markers found in Manuka Honey to assure purity and quality. Unlike other grading systems which measure just one or two markers, only the UMF™ testing process measures all three unique signature compounds, Leptosperin, Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and Methylglyoxal (MGO) present in high quality, genuine Manuka honey. All Manuka honey carrying the UMF™ mark must be independently tested in adherence with Ministry of Primary Industries and UMF™ Honey Association guidelines before it can be certified with a UMF™ grading to indicate the level of unique properties in each jar. It is estimated that more than 80% of genuine Manuka honey exported from New Zealand carries the UMF™ mark.
How to purchase genuine UMF™ Manuka Honey?
Follow these step-by-step guidelines to ensure you purchase only the highest quality, genuine UMF™ Manuka Honey:
1. The UMF™ mark is displayed clearly on the label
2. The UMF™ grading is at least 5+ or higher
3. The UMF™ licensee name and number is displayed on the label
4. The UMF™ licensee name and number are registered on www.umf.org.nz
5. A batch number printed on each jar is endorsed by an official UMF™ Certificate
6. The Manuka honey is harvested, packed and labelled in New Zealand