Sky’s the limit for Mānuka honey

Friday January 19, 2018 Sam Green

Honey has been popular for thousands of years. Celebrated as one of the few foods that never goes bad, the uses of honey have ranged from being a base for ancient Egyptian ointments to a family favourite to be spread on toast for breakfast. 


In recent years, bee keeping in New Zealand has been changing, becoming a lucrative revenue stream for New Zealand bee keepers. With the emergence of Mānuka honey, the New Zealand honey industry has been booming for more than a decade.


In the last 10 years, the volume of New Zealand’s honey exports have doubled. In the year to October 2017, New Zealand exported 9,300 tonnes of honey, enough to fill two and a half Olympic sized swimming pools! 

One of the fundamental principles of economics, the law of demand, states all other factors being equal, as the price of a good or service increases, consumer demand for the good or service will decrease, and vice versa.  The international demand for New Zealand honey is seemingly unquenchable, even with the rapid growth in the price of New Zealand honey, international consumers will buy all they can get their hands on. In 2007, New Zealand honey exported for an average price of $10 per kg, in 2017, the average price was $39 per Kg. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) 2016 Apiculture Report states that bulk Mānuka honey was selling for as high as $140 per kg. Unfortunately, there are no official statistics on the quantities of Mānuka honey exported but it is clear Mānuka honey is the powerhouse behind the explosion of New Zealand honey in the international markets. 


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The Mānuka mania we have seen in the past decade may also just be the start. MPI expect that with plantations of Mānuka being established, growth in the Mānuka honey industry could continue, to as high as $1.2 billion per year over the next decade, suggesting annual growth of 12 percent.  If this estimate is correct, the Mānuka honey industry will be comparable to the current New Zealand wine industry, which exports 232 million litres of wine each year.  If the price received by Mānuka honey continues to rise at the current rates, by 2028 this ‘liquid gold’ will reach the current price of silver bullion. 


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