Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) chairman Paul Callander says, “The very essence of our industry is under threat,” as he calls on the Australian government to intervene in the upcoming New Zealand court hearing on the use of the term ‘manuka honey’.
Australia’s local manuka honey industry says it has been “all but abandoned by the Australian government” in the lead up to the court hearing on 13 April, despite announcements of political commitments in growing Australian manufacturing.
New Zealand producers are also seeking the certification trademark for ‘manuka’ in the UK, US, Europe and China, none of which have registered the trademark so far.
“The Kiwis are trying to use international trade laws to shut down century old Australian honey producers,” said Callander.
“We are urgently calling on our Australian government to leverage all their relationships in New Zealand to negotiate an outcome that is in the best interests of both Australian and New Zealand producers and that avoids these costly legal disputes.”
“We should be aiming for collaboration, not confrontation, as we do in so many other areas with our friends across the Tasman. Our time would be more productively spent promoting Australian manuka honey and NZ manuka honey to global markets, forecast to be worth $1.27 billion annually by 2027.”
The AMHA said the term manuka has been used in Australia since the 1800s and was first used in Tasmania for “a product derived from a Tasmanian native plant”.
“It is time for the Australian government to get involved and redirect the conversation,” said Callander.
“The ramifications of an adverse decision would be devastating and would affect our trade not just in NZ, but jeopardize all the international markets that we look to sell our Australian manuka honey.
“It would also set a precedent in the hijacking of a descriptive term, potentially adversely impacting on other products.”
The AMHA is the national body in support of the production and promotion of Manuka honey in Australia and is backed by hundreds of beekeepers nationwide.