Manuka trademark debate could close markets

The stoush between Australia and our neighbours across the ditch has reignited recently, with both local and New Zealand honey producers being heavily involved in discussions regarding the trademarking of Manuka honey.

Despite being produced by bees foraging on Leptospermum plants which are native to both countries, debate is raging between the two as to the naming rights.

At the same time as the development of a new national honey body (the Australian Manuka Honey Association) last month, New Zealand producers were reportedly applying for exclusive trademarks in five countries, including Australia and China.

WAFarmers Beekeepers Section President Leilani Leyland said there was a need for Australia to protect its markets.

“Manuka honey is a sought-after product around the world, with both Australia and New Zealand producing outstanding honey from this plant,” Mrs Leyland said.

“Regardless of the fact that Australia has over 80 species of Leptospermum plants and New Zealand has fewer than five, this is not about pitting the countries against each other – it is about securing our trade opportunities.

“Given there is such high demand for this product across the globe, we hope that the New Zealand application does not pass as it has the potential to lock us out of prime markets.

“Should this occur, Australian beekeepers will obviously continue to produce this honey which is enjoyed by millions of people around the world; it will just need to be marketed under a different name which consumers might not be so familiar with.”

Mrs Leyland said it was a testament to the importance of the issue to the apiary industry that there was a wide range of representatives on the Australian Manuka Honey Association board, including apiarists, scientists and processors.

The honey, affectionately known as ‘liquid gold’, has high medicinal properties that make it a particularly desirable product.

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