Industry group 'disappointed' after beekeepers vote against levy

Bruce Wills said vote outcome was not what he had been hoping for.
Bruce Wills said vote outcome was not what he had been hoping for. Photo credit: Supplied

The industry group representing commercial beekeepers is disappointed a proposal to introduce a commodity levy has been dumped.

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) wanted the levy to address challenges around the rapidly growing industry.

The levy would have seen a flat $0.10 per kilogram on all commercial honey.

However commercial beekeepers have voted not to support the idea, with only 23.56 percent in favour.

ApiNZ chair, Bruce Will said it was not the outcome that he or the board wanted to see. 

"I believe it will set back the development of the honey industry, but I understand that at present commercial beekeepers are hurting with the erosion in honey prices as a result of over-supply, for all floral types other than mānuka honey," he said.

He said the current season has been disappointing, and many beekeepers are in survival mode and don't want to incur any extra cost when their revenues are under such pressure.

"The whole of industry must accept the decision the beekeepers have made, but it is a disappointing result for future development of the industry, particularly given the experience and examples of other successful primary sectors who are collectively focused and funded based on everyone contributing financially to industry good outcomes," said Mr Wills.

"With hindsight, even though the levy was considered to be sustainable in either easy or difficult times, it was not the ideal time to put the levy proposition to the vote. However, despite the outcome the challenges and issues faced by the industry remain the same and ApiNZ is committed to continuing to work on these through its work programmes and industry focus groups."

He said priorities for the industry include working with Government to make compliance requirements less onerous and taking action to see how the value of key native monofloral honeys can be grown.

"Other issues such as making sure our bees stay healthy and having strong biosecurity programmes in place both to control and prevent new incursions, are also on our agenda."

"We will consider all these points at the next meeting of the Board and look at what types of initiatives are required to secure a strong and united future for the industry."      

The honey industry has grown significantly in the last few years, with export earnings showing a ten-fold increase in ten years (NZ$350 million as at June 2018), and hive numbers more than doubling over the past ten years to reach 895,860 hives as at December 2018.