Australia claims its manuka honey is as good as New Zealand's

  • 30/12/2016

There's already a long list of things Australia has tried to claim from us Kiwis: pavlova, Crowded House, Phar Lap, Russell Crowe… and now it seems they might be trying to claim mānuka honey too.

University of Technology Sydney researchers recently announced they had found Australia's jelly tree honey is as powerful at fighting bacteria as the more renowned New Zealand variety.

But leading mānuka honey experts say if it's not homegrown, it's not legitimate.

The Australian study's lead author, Dr Nural Cokcetin, said the findings were very "exciting" and could be a game-changer because Australia has more than 80 types of mānuka tree growing compared to New Zealand, which has only one species.

The researchers studied more than 80 honey samples from NSW and Queensland flowering mānuka (Leptospermum) trees and found the nectar-derived chemical that gives NZ mānuka honey its unique antibacterial properties is present in Australian varieties.

But New Zealand's UMF Honey Association says the Australian researchers are "hitching a ride" on the global reputation of our honey by branding their jelly tree as mānuka.

"It's like me taking a vine from France and calling it champagne," says association spokesman John Rawcliffe.

He thinks it's ludicrous Australian producers could stake a claim on New Zealand's local industry.

"The consumer has always seen the words 'mānuka honey' being a badge of honour saying it comes from New Zealand."

He recommends consumers look for the UMF quality mark on mānuka honey products to ensure they're genuine.

New Zealand is the primary source of medicinal honey but grows only one Leptospermum species, and has a honey bee population threatened by the parasitic varroa mite.

Newshub. / NZN