In the Southern Hemisphere, there is a controversy raging, and it all comes down to naming rights over a prized and very costly form of honey praised for its health advantages. Both Australia and New Zealand are jockeying for shares in the manuka honey market, which has taken off as a superfood in recent years because of the increasing popularity of the honey. In an effort to trademark “manuka,” Bloomberg notes, New Zealand seems to have the upper hand, but Australia is fighting back.
So why are two big world markets competing for the excretion of glorified bees? Here’s what you need to know about manuka honey, its supposed health benefits, and what’s behind this recent bid for name control by the government.
Check Here for The Best Manuka Honey Brands of 2020 – Buying Guide
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey comes from Leptospermum scoparium pollinated bees, or the manuka bush, which grows mainly in New Zealand and also in Australia. In order to produce manuka honey, other species of this bush grow all over the world but do not produce the flowers bees need.
Maori, the native language of New Zealand, is the root of the word “manuka” and some parties claim that only certified New Zealand manuka honey can actually bear the term. While the plant grows in both locations, in New Zealand it is evidently much more prevalent, leaving the Australian industry to function with limited resources as demand increases.
Manuka honey in New Zealand also has a group of supporters on its side: the UMF.
Why Is Manuka Honey So Expensive?
Unlike any other, Manuka Honey is, but why does it cost so much more than standard clover and local table honey? To understand, let’s look at all the occurrences of opportunity that must occur to produce Real Manuka Honey.
Manuka Honey Is Not Like Other Honey
First of all, Manuka Honey is nothing like other honey varietals. There may still be a place in your cupboard for local wildflower honey and traditional clover honey, but Manuka Honey contains 20 times the individual natural compounds, giving it a variety of health benefits that are special to Manuka Honey.
True Manuka Honey is produced when the Manuka flower is almost entirely pollinated by bees.
Bees must only pollinate the Manuka flower in order to make genuine Manuka Honey. The honey produced is ‘Multi-Floral’ Manuka, which has a much lower concentration of the special wellness properties of Manuka Honey, if the Manuka Flower is only one of several blooms pollinated. Monofloral Manuka Honey is produced when bees choose to pollinate this special bloom above all others through their own free will.
The Manuka Flower Blooms Only 2-6 Weeks Per Year
If the Manuka flowers bloomed during the season, it would be one thing, but this plant has a very small flowering window. This ensures that bees have as little as 12 days to harvest the Manuka Flower nectar and produce the entire year’s Manuka Honey yield. To collect the nectar needed to produce a single jar of honey, it also takes bees 22,700 trips to the Manuka Flower, which is a lot of work in a very short period of time.
The Manuka Flower is only native to New Zealand’s isolated hills and forests.
Manuka Honey would not be as rare a natural phenomenon if the Manuka Flower could flourish anywhere. But in addition to the short flowering window, Manuka Flowers are found in its native New Zealand only in unique microclimates, mostly in the most remote hills and forests. This wild plant is very susceptible to climate and weather changes, pollution, and other human interference, so the further away from human interaction is the Manuka plant, the healthier the Manuka flower, bee colonies, and Manuka honey. This is why Comvita only harvests Manuka Honey from very difficult to reach locations-leaving the plants and bees alone to grow their best honey in habitats that are sustainably controlled and regenerative.
Not all Manuka flowers have high compound levels unique to Manuka Honey.
Not all blooms produce nectar that yields a high concentration of the three main chemical markers of Manuka, Leptosperin, Methylglyoxal, and DHA, in addition to the rarity of the Manuka Flower. So, after all this job of pollinating the rare bloom to produce this special honey, it may still not have significant levels of the unique properties of Manuka that make it conducive to use in routines of wellness and beauty. This is why paying attention to the rating system shown on your Manuka Honey jar is critical. Comvita uses UMFTM (Special Manuka Factor) certification, the only independently validated rating system that tests all three unique chemical markers of Manuka and guarantees minimum activity levels in each jar. UMFTM also checks for the existence of Leptosperin, the plant marker that identifies that the honey is from the Manuka flower nectar, which occurs naturally. No other ranking system provides you with a straightforward picture of what you deserve-the gold standard is UMFTM.
A UMF™ 20+ Is Not Four Times Stronger Than A UMF™ 5+
Logically, you might think that a UMFTM 20 + has levels 33 percent higher than a UMFTM 15 +, or that a UMFTM 10 + is driven by two UMFTM 5 +, but that’s not how it works. The rating numbers are not flatly proportional to the active compound concentration. UMFTM 20 + Manuka Honey, the rarest of the rare, for instance, has over 10x the methylglyoxal levels as UMFTM 5 + Manuka Honey. This chart compares Methylglyoxal (MGO) levels across all four UMFTM equivalent ratings:
In short, it is a wonder of nature that this potent elixir comes together in the first place, between the delicacy of the Manuka Flower, the short period of time it blooms, and the scarcity of high concentrations of key compounds of Manuka, and it is all the more important to invest in the real thing, sustainably made, and tested for authenticity.
Also, See Trader Joe’s Manuka Honey Reviews