Honey trap: New Zealand devises manuka test to fight fakes
Government has experimented 800 samples from around the world to create a benchmark description for the prized product
The New Zealand government has experimented 800 samples of sugar from around the world to fix a scientific description of genuine manuka sugar and crackdown on alleged fakes.
Jars purporting to be New Zealand manuka were attracted from UK shelves including at Fortnum& Mason earlier this year when it was discovered the latter are forge amid a infatuation for the commodity, which is highly valued for its therapeutic properties.
The demand has pushed the cost of some containers to NZ $590( 327) but has also spurred unprincipled farmers to forge the active manuka content, leptosperin, in their product.
After three years of testing sugar samples, New Zealands ministry of primary manufactures( MPI) has liberated a scientific definition to be used to show manuka sugar destined for exportation in a bid to restore consumer confidence.
The brand-new description means that sugars must have five peculiarities four chemicals and one DNA marker – in order to be classified as genuine New Zealand manuka.
Questions have been raised in overseas markets about the accuracy of some sugar being sold as New Zealand manuka sugar, told Bryan Wilson, deputy director-general of MPI.
It is important that overseas regulators have confidence in such assurances we give them about New Zealand manuka sugar, and that consumers in those countries are confident they are getting the real agreement. If not, our better access to markets could be thrown at risk or we may lose the premium price which our bee produces dominate overseas.
The authentication test is being embraced by industry officials in New Zealand, who say the sugar business is long-overdue for increased regulation and government testing.
Hive stealings, vandalism and poisonings have become standard fare in the New Zealand manuka industry, with the majority professional beekeepers the victim of one or more serious crimes.
In the six months prior to January more than 400 bee or sugar stealings were entered, according to New Zealand police.
In 2010 the top price retrieved for volume manuka sugar was NZ $37.50/ kg( 22/ kg ). Today it was able to bidding more than NZ $100/ kg.
The export to the UK, China and non-eu countries is expected to reach NZ $400 m in the next few years.