Capilano backs new Australian Manuka Honey Association

ASX Listed Capilano has been confirmed as one of the backers of the new Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA).

Other Australian honey companies, marketers, researchers and scientists are also involved in AMHA, which was formally incorporated as a public company limited earlier this month.

AMHA Chairman Paul Callander, from Western Australian plant-breeder,  ManukaLife  Pty Ltd, said that the new Association will oppose any moves by New Zealand honey interests to trademark the phrase Manuka honey.

“New Zealand has only one species of the Leptospermum manuka plant, whereas Australia has more than 80 species,” Mr Callander said.

“The one Leptospermum species used in New Zealand to produce manuka honey has been shown to have migrated from Australia, probably Tasmania.”

“New Zealand has done a fantastic job of promoting the name and health benefits of manuka, but that does not give it exclusive rights to use this label. Collaboration and partnership between the two countries would make far more sense.”

However co-operation across the Tasman on this issue seems unlikely given the stance taken by the New Zealand’s UMF Honey Association.

The UMF association’s chief executive, John Rawcliffe, told a recent edition of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s ‘country hour’ radio programme that consumers want assurance their Manuka honey comes from New Zealand.

"This is not an Australia versus New Zealand story, it's a consumer story," he said.

"There is a whole heritage, culture and research behind this unique product from New Zealand that a consumer expects to see or to buy.

"We need to be able to have assurance to that consumer that they are getting that journey.”

Rawcliffe’s contention that manuka honey is only authentic when produced in New Zealand is clearly spelled out stated in the trademark application that New Zealand’s Manuka Honey Appellation Society lodged with IP Australia back in February 2016.

The application says that Manuka honey is “derived from Manuka plant nectar, originate[s] in New Zealand, and that the preparation, production, and/or processing of the goods take place in New Zealand”.

That application may now have lapsed, but the Kiwi’s are believed to be still pursuing applications in the USA and China.

AMHA, with support from Capilano, is gearing up to formally oppose those applications, and will likely be asking for Australian government assistance too.