Jamie Gray is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Poor manuka honey harvest set to hit Comvita earnings

Comvita looks set to be hit by a poor honey harvest in the current financial year.
Comvita looks set to be hit by a poor honey harvest in the current financial year.

NZX-listed Health foods company Comvita said a poor season would bring a 60 per cent shortfall in its manuka honey harvest, dragging its June year operating earnings down to around $5 million to $7m from a previous forecast of $17.1m.

The company's share price fell sharply as a result of the news.

Chief executive Scott Coulter most of the country has seen cold, wet and windy conditions over the optimal nectar flow period.

"Although we do not have full visibility on our 2017 honey crop until April/May, the honey season has progressed to a point where we have enough evidence to suggest we are likely to see a 60 per cent shortfall in harvest expectations this season from our own apiary operations," he said in a statement.

Coulter said there was still some time in certain areas of the country, subject to a sustained period of fine weather, to see some form of recovery.

"However it appears the whole industry is experiencing one of the most difficult honey production seasons for many years," he said.

In the first half hour of trading on the NZX, Comvita's shares plunged by $1.06 or 13.5 per cent to $6.77 a share on the back of the news.

The company expects a honey crop of 380 tonnes in the 2017 year, compared to an average harvest of 974 tonnes.

Coulter said Comvita had been preparing for this type of scenario, buying Manuka honey inventory from third party suppliers over the past 18 months, which gives it enough supply to meet demand for the next year.

"The very poor honey production this season reinforces the importance of being successful in our diversification and value add strategies," he said. "This is an active ongoing process about which we expect to release more details over the next few months."

- with BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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