Manuka Honey World is a site all about the wonder of nature that is Manuka honey.
The story of Manuka honey is truly a remarkable one and a reminder of the astounding beauty and complexity of the natural world.
The story of course begins with something so simple as a humble bee collecting nectar from the delicate flowers of the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium) in one of the world’s most remote and unspoilt countries: New Zealand.
The Manuka honey industry has gone on to become a global business as consumers around the world are fascinated by the antibacterial properties of the honey.
Brief history of Manuka honey
New Zealanders have been harvesting manuka honey more or less since the honey bee was introduced to New Zealand in 1839.
For decades, the honey was not considered anything special and if anything some beekeepers considered it to be something of a nuisance as it is more difficult to extract given its thickness.
All that changed, however, in the early 1980s when a researcher called Peter Molan made his startling discovery about the unusual antibacterial properties of manuka, and the rest as they say is history.
Lack of clear labelling guidelines sows confusion
It did not take for word to spread not only about Manuka honey’s delicious taste but also its antibacterial properties, and as the general public became more fascinated by the honey, demand for it boomed.
In the early years as the Manuka honey industry began to expand, there was not much official regulation on labelling, and this resulted in an explosion of different labels and words used to describe the honey, many of which just left consumers baffled.
Fraud also an issue
Unfortunately for consumers, this labelling free-for-all has had major negative impacts for consumers and the industry itself.
Firstly, many of the different methods of labelling the honey meant that they could not be compared to each other in any meaningful way.
Secondly, this resulted in the curious fact that more Manuka honey was being sold than was actually being produced, which only meant one thing: dubious labelling and fraud.
The main way in which sales of Manuka honey are manipulated is to blend the honey e.g. with Kanuka honey, which looks similar to Manuka, or in more serious cases to adulterate the honey.
These problems still exist today but the manuka honey industry together with the New Zealand government has taken steps to improve the situation as well as protect the industry and consumers.
This is also where the work of the UMF Honey Association comes in.
Manuka Honey World recommends honey with the UMF label
The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association has developed a set of testing protocols to identify genuine Manuka honey based on its scientific research programme to identify natural markers contained in the honey.
The UMF label is a trademark label and a quality standard that guarantees the purity and quality of the honey.
The UMF number is based on the concentration of these natural markers and the higher the number the purer the honey and the greater its antibacterial properties.
New Government guidelines
Separately from the work carried out by the UMF Honey Association, the ministry in New Zealand responsible for Manuka honey, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), also introduced new testing regulations and guidelines for labelling Manuka honey in 2017 on the basis of its own research work.
The MPI’s guidelines are based on testing for the presence of signature markers that only occur in genuine Manuka honey because they originate from the nectar and pollen of the Manuka bush.
These developments together can give consumers confidence that Manuka honey licensed with the UMF label is a genuine and not to mention delicious product.