Manuka honey prices crash down-under

Australian retail prices for Manuka honey appear to have crashed in the second half of 2017.

They’re still high, and mostly higher than ordinary or normal honey. But prices for the special, ‘active’ Manuka honeys have tumbled dramatically.

New Zealand’s largest Manuka honey producer, the NZ Stock Exchange listed Comvita, is a good example.

Prices at its Australian online store were still at the old levels as this issue went to press. So a 250gms jar of its 20+ Manuka honey was still listed at $239.95, and the 15+ at some $129.95.

However the same honey can be found for around half those prices at a number of online shops. Pharmacyonline.com.au for example listed the 15+ variety at just $69 whilst the 20+ is listed at beevitamins.com.au for just $119.

Even at the bottom end of the market the story appears the same with 340gms upside down squeeze bottles of Capilano’s Manuka 30+ honey now on sale at $9.50 in my local (Northcote) store.

In fact the 30+ bioactive Manuka cost just 50cents more than the non-bioactive, i.e. ordinary Capilano Manuka honey sitting beside it on the shelf.

Over at Aldi, their house-brand NZ Manuka honey is just $9 for a similar size jar of MG30+.

Aldi’s Manuka honey, and that recently sold in Costco’s local stores under the Mt Adams brand, are both believed to be sourced from NZ company Manuka Health.

Manuka Health was bought by venture capitalist - Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) - back in 2015 for a reported $NZ110million.

PEP, like others specializing in so-called leveraged buyouts, is an active trader of the companies it buys, and expert in minimizing the tax it pays on sale transactions.

In any event, and whether or not Manuka Health is making a profit, under PEP’s ownership the company has massively expanded production.

Indeed industry body Apiculture NZ reports total hive numbers at more than 800,000 as at June 2017.

This means that NZ hive numbers and total honey production (mostly Manuka honey)  has doubled in the last five year.

Despite this massive increase total global demand for Manuka honey has continued to grow so that the increased supply appears to have had no effect on price.

But with ever more Manuka honey flooding into the market, it may be that supply is finally catching up with demand, and that the glory days are over.

For latest estimates on NZ hive numbers go to:

www.apiculture.co.nz