Large-scale manuka investment a first for New Zealand

New Zealanders are being offered the chance to own manuka plantations for honey production.

The initiative is a partnership between New Zealand's largest honey producer and exporter, Comvita, and rural investment company MyFarm, and aims to raise over $8 million from investors.

The collaboration is the first large-scale manuka investment of its kind in New Zealand, and MyFarm CEO Andrew Watters believes it signals a new era for North Island hill country profitability for specific locations.

He says there are many positives from the scheme.

"It will increase export returns from high-value manuka honey and generate excellent returns for investors," he said.

"From an environmental perspective, we are storing carbon, reducing soil sediment loss and improving biodiversity - we don't foresee a more green investment than this," said Mr Watters.

Under the scheme, investors in Waimarie Manuka Limited Partnership will own 1800 hectares of lower North Island hill country, which will be developed and share-farmed by Comvita. 

The agreement sees the partnership and Comvita sharing in the honey and carbon revenue generated from the two properties being purchased.

Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) honey has unique scientifically proven antimicrobial properties that are different to other types of honey and is in high demand for a wide range of applications from food and beverage to cosmetics, nutraceuticals and medical dressings.

Comvita has a strategy to increase its supply of this high UMF honey by breeding genetically superior manuka plants and increasing plantings in New Zealand's best growing locations. 

Honey from naturally grown manuka typically has an average Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating of 6-7. In contrast, it's expected that honey produced from Comvita's Manuka varieties will have average UMF ratings of greater than 10.

The offer to invest in Waimarie Manuka Limited Partnership is open to wholesale investors from a minimum investment of $100,000. MyFarm is seeking to raise $8.1 million, and the offer closes on Thursday, December 6.