Friday, August 07, 2009

Manuka Honey Producer Upset Over TV Portrayal of Industry

Honey Producer has Bee in Bonnet Over TV Show
By Jamie Morton, Wairarapa Times-Age, 8/7/2009

Wairarapa manuka honey producer Peter Ferris is angry at how a Close Up report this week portrayed the industry. A Close Up report that labelled the New Zealand Manuka honey industry as "rife with false claims and deceit" and "in need of a clean-up" has put a bee in the bonnet of a Wairarapa producer and advocate.

The Wednesday evening segment reported that jars of Manuka honey were being sold overseas for up to $200 a pop, "but the claims on the packaging often failed to match what's inside, meaning huge profits for unscrupulous producers".

Active Manuka honey is well known for its anti-bacterial and healing properties, and is often used to combat digestive problems.

Peter Ferris, managing director of Wairarapa Manuka Limited, believes the story vilified the entire industry instead of the small number of packing companies he said were responsible for misrepresenting the product in labels.

Mr Ferris, who is also president of the National Beekeepers Association Southern North Island Branch, said the programme constantly indicated "producers" were misrepresenting the contents.

However, producers did not receive "anything close" to $200 a jar and were instead paid according to the tests carried out by the packers who buy the honey. It was at the packing stage that the true content of the jars were hopefully labelled correctly, he said.

Mr Ferris was especially angry that John Rawcliffe, of the "Honey Association" - which he said was in fact a "very small group of people" - publicly called for a review that he knew was already under way…

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