Capilano Continues Fight For Australia’s Manuka Honey Industry

25/09/2019

In October 2017, Capilano joined the fight for the rights to market our Australian Manuka honey, alongside a number of other honey packers, beekeepers and researchers. Following New Zealand’s (NZ) recent attempt to trademark the term ‘Manuka’ in China, EU, UK, USA and NZ, Capilano along with the Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) has sprung into action to defend Australia’s rights to market our Manuka across the Pacific.

The Australian Manuka honey industry is integral to the reputation, success, sustainability and on-going viability of the Australian honey and pollination industries. It employs thousands of Australians in mainly rural areas and represents a well-established and internationally recognised industry. Australia produces some of the most active medical-grade high-potency antibacterial Manuka honey in the world. The Manuka honey industry has the capacity to grow and generate many more rural jobs that support rural and regional communities, whilst growing Australian exports for many years to come. 

The naming rights of Manuka honey is under threat because of an initiative by the Manuka Honey Appellation Society (MHAS) in NZ to trademark the term Manuka honey, as something that only refers to Manuka honey originating from NZ. The term ‘Manuka honey’ has been used in Australia since the 1800’s, and we believe Australia has a compelling case to defend our right of use.

The viability and growth of our industry depends critically on the right to use the name ‘Manuka’; known widely around the world as a designation of the unique honey produced by Leptospermum plants, which are exclusively located in Australia and NZ.

As detailed by Dr Peter Brooks, a professor who specialises in Manuka research at the Honey Research Laboratory University of the Sunshine Coast, “Manuka, Leptospermum scoparium has its ancestral origins in Australia. Thompson’s A Revision of the genus Leptospermum (Myrtaceae) in 1989 states: “Leptospermum scoparium distribution “Scattered on mainland Australia from Mt Imlay on the far south coast of New South Wales to the Grampians in western Victoria and widespread in Tasmania and New Zealand.” The review further goes on to state: “L. scoparium has been very successful in Tasmania and has migrated across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.” Far from being unique to New Zealand, the Manuka plant has a stronger Australian connection than it has to New Zealand.”

Dr Brooks also highlighted that Australian producers have been describing their honey as “Manuka” for over a century, long before the honey achieved popularity. Furthermore, A 2018 research article commissioned by the NZ Ministry of Primary Industry on chemical and DNA markers of Manuka honey concluded that Australian Manuka was indistinguishable from NZ Manuka.

At Capilano, we remain committed to protecting Australia’s rights to market our Manuka honey in Australia, and the rest of the world.

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