All exports of New Zealand manuka honey will have to be tested as authentic against a new definition set by the Ministry of Primary Industries before it can be exported.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the testing regime was set up to safeguard the industry from cowboy operators and to protect New Zealand's trade reputation.

He said MPI had recently filed charges against a company and two people alleging offences in relations to the adulteration of honey.

"The definition will help stop that kind of activity, which undermines our reputation across the whole food chain.

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"If we didn't introduce this standard, then other countries may have forced one on us."

If it passes the definition of Manuka honey, it will be certified by MPI and will be able to be exported.

Testing will be paid for by the producers at a rate of about $150 to $160 per 200 litre drum of honey.

"Our trade partners and consumers in many countries want to know they are getting the real deal and this definition will provide them that assurance."

There is no definition for the domestic market. Any such definition would be developed in conjunction with the industry.

The scientific definition for mānuka honey will be tested against a combination of four chemical markers derived from nectar and one DNA marker from mānuka pollen.

The combination of markers will allow industry to separate mānuka honey from other types of honey and identify honey as either monofloral or multifloral mānuka honey.