The Consumer Dilemma
Are all retailers clear on the credentials inherent in the UMF® quality mark?
The UMF Honey Association Executive contracted two major in-market audits last year, focussing on product on sale at retail in the UK and Singapore. The results were what you would expect – all the honey marketed with the UMF quality mark was true to label, but there was a large amount of product being sold as ‘Active’ and described by the retailer as being the same as UMF . In some cases retailers were trying to represent the product as genuine UMF quality honey, and in other cases the product was simply not true to label. This reinforces the issue identified in a speech by Neil Stuckey at the 2011/12 AGM, part of which reads:
“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”
The Association will be focussing resource this year on informing and educating major distributors as to the difference between ‘Active’ and UMF, the correct correlation between methylglyoxal and NPA, the issues around the stability of peroxide activity in honey, and our current work on Manuka ID to ensure they can correctly represent New Zealand honey to consumers.
The Association’s work on Manuka ID
Foundation Meeting with International Experts on Chemical Profiling and Honey 15.March.2013
The Association is working closely with acknowledged world experts and using the best technology available to accurately profile the mono-floral attributes of genuine Manuka honey. Even at this point in time, the Executive is confident with the current phase of research that it has probably the best available understanding and methodologies to determine what Manuka honey is. The project will run over the next 16 months, including communication programmes in the marketplace and establishing a verification programme through our Interlab network.
There has been on-going confusion over methods to determine whether the product you’re being sold as a consumer is genuine Manuka honey or not. On every bottle of honey carrying the UMF quality mark is the word ‘Manuka’. As part of protecting, reinforcing and ultimately building this quality trademark, the Association has made significant gains in differentiating Manuka honey, then promoting UMF manuka honey for its unique qualities, and providing confidence to the consumer that they can buy genuine UMF manuka honey.