Australian researchers flip flop to support Mānuka honey claim
New Zealand’s leading authority on Mānuka honey is dismissing latest research claims about the potency of Australian jelly bush honey as a continued campaign to trade off the success of New Zealand’s Mānuka honey industry.
UMF Honey Association (UMFHA) spokesperson John Rawcliffe said Australian researchers were doing what could only be described as a ‘flip flop’, in an effort to try and take ownership of the Mānuka honey name.
“It appears there is renewed interest amongst Australian researchers to draw parallels between their jelly bush honey and New Zealand’s internationally successful Mānuka honey.
“This seems to support Australia’s current interest in staking a claim to the Mānuka honey name. It follows the lead New Zealand has taken with its international UMFHA research programme which identified the key signature compounds found in genuine Mānuka honey.
“In-line with that latest research, we now test for Leptosperin, DHA and Methyglyoxal. New Zealand’s UMF® grading system is the only system in the world to look for and measure all of these compounds to confirm that a product is genuine Mānuka honey. The higher the UMF® grading number on a product then the higher the concentration of signature compounds and potency of the honey.”
John highlighted media reports in 2014 where University of New South Wales Senior Lecturer and researcher Dr Peter Brooks was quoted as stating that Australia had its own variety of Mānuka tree known as the jelly tree. He went on to say that Australians were “hitching a ride” on the global reputation of New Zealand Mānuka by branding their jelly tree as Mānuka.”
John said Dr Brooks also expressed concern that not all jelly tree honey was true to label, posing a threat to the development of the industry in Australia.
“In stark contrast, Dr Brooks is now stating that Australian ‘Mānuka’ honey is at least as powerful against bacteria as the New Zealand variety.”
John said the Australian honey industry is well aware that Mānuka honey is viewed internationally as being a product from New Zealand.
“They persist in riding on the ‘coat tails’ of a product that is unique to New Zealand and viewed as such by consumers worldwide.
John said the highly successful New Zealand Mānuka honey industry continues to be the target of copycat honey producers in other countries.
“Our quality mark can be found on over 80% of all New Zealand Mānuka honey export products. Therefore, we strongly recommend that consumers always look for the UMF® quality mark on any Mānuka honey product that they buy, as a way of ensuring they are buying genuine New Zealand Mānuka honey.”
John said he encourages the Australian industry to develop a honey industry that can stand on its own merits. He said he would also not rule out sharing the Association’s advanced science programme with the Australian industry, as a way of helping them to distinguish and develop their own standalone industry.
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