Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced consultation has begun to define manuka honey to enable truth in labelling.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be asking the honey industry, scientists and other interested stakeholders for their say through this consultation process,” Ms Kaye says.
“The New Zealand honey industry has been working for many years to come up with an accurate way to label, market and brand manuka honey and unfortunately has been unable to reach consensus. There is no international standard for a definition of manuka honey.
“Recently, the authenticity of some New Zealand manuka honey has been queried in overseas markets. This puts the integrity of our country’s export reputation at risk and so steps need to be taken to ensure consumer confidence.
“It is important that New Zealand manuka honey label claims are correct and can be substantiated by science.
“This is something the New Zealand Government takes very seriously as honey is an important food export, worth about $NZ120 million per year. There are high consumer expectations both here and overseas that what is said on the label is accurate.
“The outcome of the consultation will be developed into draft labelling guidelines that will be tested with industry before they are finalised and published. This will effectively mean that in the short-term there will be a voluntary labelling regime.
“The guidelines will be the first step to providing clarity for industry, consumers and our trading partners.
“I have asked MPI to look at potential regulatory options and the impacts of those options. If there is regulation, that will mean compulsory labelling requirements for manuka honey. This is something that will take several months to work through.
“I understand the potential impact to industry of these changes and it is my intention to work with Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and the relevant government agencies to look at possible further support in science investment and branding.
“Food systems are based on trust and integrity and that is why after several years of discussion it is time for clarity on this issue for our trading partners and consumers,” Ms Kaye says.
The consultation document can be found at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-resources/publications.aspx