Many consumers will be familiar with the Comvita brand of UMF manuka honey. Sometimes a company takes on a more significant role and becomes identified with the industry itself and in the case of manuka honey, this is certainly the case with Comvita. The story behind the company is an interesting and inspiring one, not least because of one of its co-founders Claude Stratford.
From a small start to a global company
Comvita started out in a rural and beautiful part of New Zealand – a village in the Bay of Plenty area of New Zealand in 1974 and was originally a health food store with a mail order arm. Fast forward forty years and Comvita is not only one of the most recognizable names in UMF manuka honey but a listed company worth millions of dollars with outlets in at least 18 countries.
The company has expanded into other areas too including wound care and skin care products made with medical grade manuka honey that are marketed under the Medihoney brand.
Founder of Comvita lived to 102
One of the remarkable facts behind the Comvita manuka honey brand is that one of the company’s co-founders, Claude Stratford, lived to be just short of 103! What’s more he founded Comvita when he was 64, an age when many are already retired or just about to retire.
He continued to work full time until he was 95, when he was also a finalist in New Zealand’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Claude Stratford had a lifelong interest in bee-keeping and the therapeutic potential of bee products, and took himself a teaspoon of bee pollen every day.
Forefront of manuka honey development
Guaranteeing a supply of high quality manuka honey is a key issue for Comvita and by 2015 the company will have some 30,000 hives! In addition, Comvita has a sophisticated Apiary Management System that allows the honey to be traced and real-time information on the entire beekeeping operations.
UMF Manuka Honey
Comvita has been working with the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, which is the organization behind the UMF trademark, to develop a chemical fingerprint for manuka honey with the long term aim of protecting consumers from merchants who are trying to pass off inferior honey as the real thing. Comvita’s research has also led to further discoveries about the anti-inflammatory properties of manuka honey.
Try for yourself: here is the full range of Comvita’s UMF Manuka Honey.