Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Australian Manuka honey producers welcome NZ trademark win

A ruling by New Zealand’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) that NZ honey producers have no exclusive claim to the term “Manuka honey” has been welcomed as a “common sense outcome” by Australia’s Manuka honey industry, which has plans to grow international sales in response to rising demand.

The trademark win follows earlier Australian successes in other jurisdictions including the UK and Europe.

Australian Manuka Honey Association chairman Ben McKee says: “We are delighted with the judgment handed down by the IPO, which confirms what we have been saying since New Zealand producers began this legal process nearly eight years ago – our product has a long history of being recognised as Manuka honey, it is produced like the NZ product is, and it also offers the sought-after antimicrobial properties that consumers around the world value so highly. Indeed, there is research to show Australian honey has stronger antimicrobial benefits and a better taste than the NZ offering.

“This decision is a sensible outcome that ensures Aussie beekeepers can fairly market their produce. It also sees NZ following other precedent around the world that Manuka honey is a descriptive term.”

With growing research highlighting the unique health benefits of Manuka honey, Dr McKee said there was strong demand for the Australian honey from countries around the world including the United States, Japan, China and Germany.

“This is positive news not just for Australian Manuka producers, but also the broader industry – the thousands of people involved in producing, transporting and selling Manuka honey as a consumable and as an ingredient in an expanding range of pharmaceutical, health and beauty products. AMHA will continue working towards providing global customers with verifiable assurances that the product they purchase is as described on the label.

“The fact that even authorities in New Zealand cannot find a way to support the trademark claims of NZ producers should, we hope, bring this legal dispute to an end once and for all,” Dr McKee said.

He noted that it was a particular group of NZ producers, under the umbrella of the Manuka Honey Appellation Society (MHAS), who had spearheaded the trademark campaign, and that there were other NZ beekeepers and industry members who were prepared to work more collaboratively with the Australian industry.

“The opportunities for Australian Manuka honey are huge. Hopefully we can now focus on promoting this wonderful medicinal honey to the world, rather than fighting over naming rights.”

The international Manuka honey market is forecast to be worth around $1.27 billion in annual trade by 2027.

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