The country's oldest honey company says questions about the
pollen count of some New Zealand honey also need to be asked, after
a US survey found that 75% of American honey was processed to the
point it has lost its health benefits and traceability.
Airborne Honey Chief Executive Peter Bray says the problem a US
survey unveiled - where honey is ultra-filtered to remove
impurities, but loses its natural health properties and ability to
trace to its origins in the process - isn't just limited to that
part of the world.
"Seventy five percent of the honey samples tested in the survey
found that they'd been ultra filtered, which removes impurities and
keeps the honey from crystallising quickly, but leads to these
other problems. There are other ways to keep honey pure, that also
retain its natural properties and the ability to know where it came
from. Those two things are so very important to New Zealand's image
as a supplier of fresh, untouched food, that it's extremely
important that we maintain our standards."
Mr Bray says most New Zealand consumers are probably unaware
that some honey is processed in this way - and that the honey that
they are eating doesn't necessarily deliver the qualities they'd
"The reality is that so much natural food is significantly
altered today, and people aren't aware of it. As consumers, we want
to know we are buying something that's genuine, and it does what it
claims to do," Mr Bray says. "We'd like to see tougher regulations
Mr Bray says Manuka honey is a good example of an area that
customers have high expectations that aren't always met.
"It commands a high price because of
its perceived health benefits, and so consumers deserve to be told
the actual Manuka content in the jar they are buying. Stricter
labelling regulations would ensure this."
Established in 1910, Canterbury-based Airborne Honey is the
longest serving honey company in New Zealand. The company has
brought together a century of honey making experience with
sophisticated processing and testing facilities to offer a
consistently high quality, traceable product. Its unique 'Honest,
Undamaged and Traceable' labelling tells the customer exactly what
variety of honey is in each jar, and precisely where it came from,
right back to the drum of honey in an apiary.
"We've put many years into our lab testing facilities and
labelling system, and developed a Honey Standards Guide to help
people navigate their way through the complexities of honey, and
help them chose a high quality product each time.
"We'd like to see the US study as the impetus for more stringent
labelling codes for New Zealand honey. This would give New Zealand
consumers the confidence that they know exactly what they are
eating, but also help strengthen our valuable export markets - with
Manuka honey being worth an estimated $120 million alone, this is
Bray says ultimately he believes the drive to increase the
quality of honey will come from consumers.
"Around the world, people are increasingly asking questions
about the quality of their food, and where it's come from. Often,
it's very difficult for them to peel back the marketing spin to get
answers to these questions. We're a family owned business still
going strong after more than a century because we're able to
guarantee what's in each jar we sell. We're simply calling for the
enforcement of these same standards industry wide."