Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Zealand Invests in Medicinal Honey

Honey in the Money
Taranaki Daily News, 5/12/2011
A Taranaki entrepreneur's dream to develop manuka honey into a billion-dollar industry has attracted government funding of $850,000.

The Government has announced the funding over seven years as part of a $1.7 million partnership with Manuka Research Partnership (NZ) Ltd and Te Puke healthcare company Comvita.

Neil Walker, of Hawera, is managing director of Manuka Research Partnership, a consortium that consists of Nukuhau Carbon Ltd, owned by Mr Walker, Taihape apiarist Don Tweeddale, who owns more than 17,000 beehives, and Wairarapa sheep and beef farmer Dan Riddiford.

Manuka Research Partnership and Comvita want to find out what affects yields and activity levels in manuka honey - commercially described as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) - and to increase the reliability of supply and the amount of medical-grade manuka honey.

New research in Britain suggests manuka honey could play a role in the battle against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The findings show that some manuka honey has unique antibacterial properties, the exact origins of which are yet to be fully understood.

The New Zealand manuka honey industry is estimated to be worth $75 million, and the consortium hopes that its research will lead to a billion-dollar industry.

Mr Walker said growth in the market was constrained by the supply of economically accessible, high-activity manuka and a lack of consistency in yield and quality. The aim of the research was to double the number of beehives per hectare, the honey yield per hive, the proportion of medicinal manuka honey and the area of manuka economically accessible to beekeepers…

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