Two New Zealand Mānuka honey businesses are leveraging the FernMark to cut through in a global market that is cluttered with imitation.
New Zealand has long been known for producing quality Mānuka honey, which is often described as the ‘liquid gold’ of all honeys. With increasing competition in the global market, two New Zealand Mānuka honey producers are doing their best to ensure New Zealand-made Mānuka honey maintains this recognition and identity on the world stage.
Steens Honey and Taylor Pass Honey are vertically integrated businesses that maintain a focus on best practice beekeeping, balancing Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural ecosystem and sharing their authentic Mānuka honey with the world.
Founded in the 1980s by Paul and Sheryl Steens, Steens Honey was built on a yearning for a healthy, and sustainable lifestyle. This led to its patented extraction process, which the pair says allows the business to produce honey in its raw and purest form. Steens Honey was one of the founding honey producers involved in the Active Mānuka Honey Association (AMHA), now known as the UMF (Unique Mānuka Factor) association, and is a proud advocate for New Zealand Mānuka.
Nearly 20 years later in 2001, Taylor Pass Honey was born from the business’s passion for the connection between people, land, and bees. Established as an export-focused brand, Taylor Pass Honey partly attributes its success to the regional diversification of its beehives – situated in Blenheim and Wanaka. This allows a consistent supply of honey, and a range of floral sources, including Mānuka, which only flowers four to six weeks of the year.
Both producers value kaitiakitanga and strive to serve as guardians of Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural environment. Rebecca Margetts, Taylor Pass Honey’s Sales and Marketing General Manager, says that connection to – and protection of – the land is critical. The organisation has a focus on continuous improvement, accountability, transparency and building strong partnerships through ethical business practices.
“Land is at the heart of everything we do, and taking care of it is how we ensure an ongoing commitment to quality honey. We always strive to tread lightly, leaving as little of an impact as possible.”
Both businesses believe in honey you can trace back to its origin and delivering quality products that are representative of New Zealand’s rich biodiversity.
As global awareness of the natural immunity, health and wellbeing benefits of Mānuka honey has grown, so too has demand for New Zealand Mānuka honey products. With this, Steens Honey’s Chief Executive, Emma Hulse, says international competition has also increased in the form of honey produced outside New Zealand also being called ‘manuka’.
“The recent outcome of the “MANUKA” trademark case means it’s never been more important for New Zealand Mānuka honey producers to work together to reinforce what makes our honey authentic and sets us apart from the rest.”
There are stringent quality testing policies in place for New Zealand Mānuka to ensure the potency, authenticity, shelf life and freshness of the honey, with Hulse explaining:
”You can guarantee that any Mānuka honey bottled, certified and labelled in New Zealand has been tested to a standard unparalleled by any other countries.”
However, both businesses agree that a greater level of education is needed for international retailers and consumers to understand the unique properties of New Zealand Mānuka honey and the various quality grading and certification systems available.
“With so many Manuka honey gradings out there, it can be really confusing for consumers to know whether they are getting premium and authentic New Zealand Mānuka honey, says Margetts. This is exacerbated by some competitors using gradings that cannot be compared, meaning that consumers can’t compare apples with apples, or honey with honey”, says Margetts.
This, she says, is where the FernMark lights the way for conversations with international buyers.
“We chose to join the FernMark Licence Programme because of the additional layer of assurance it provides about our honey’s place of origin. People see the FernMark and instantly recognise it as a trusted marker of New Zealand quality and authenticity.
“The FernMark complements other certifications we have in place – providing an immutable proof point for real New Zealand Mānuka honey.
“New Zealand has a reputation for providing premium products, backed by sustainable and ethical practices. The more quality brands that get behind the FernMark the better. This elevates New Zealand as a package, and we all come together under an umbrella of trusted, and authentic products.”
As global demand for Mānuka honey remains strong in key export markets, telling the distinctiveness story of New Zealand Mānuka honey has never been more important.
Taylor Pass Honey and Steens Honey are proud to align themselves with a group of companies recognised by the FernMark as living by the values that Aotearoa New Zealand holds close, and to be working to set New Zealand’s Mānuka honey apart on the world stage.
To find out more about Taylor Pass Honey, visit taylorpasshoney.co.nz
To find out more about Steens Honey, visit nz.steenshoney.com