Food traceability is becoming an increasingly important issue for Comvita, says Brett Hewlett, chief executive of the Bay of Plenty-based honey and health products company.

"Food traceability is a key consideration in global markets and Asia in particular," said Mr Hewlett.

The increased focus has been driven by Comvita's acquisition of additional honey sources. Now that the company has six apiary businesses and around 30,000 hives - up from 20,000 hives last year - Comvita had taken traceability to a new level, said Mr Hewlett.

Comvita assembled a professional team to build and implement a proprietary supply chain integrative system that it has called the Apiary Management System (AMS). This system allowed full, digital traceability of honey back to individual hives and facilitated optimal hive management practices.


"Because we now have additional scale and scope of our apiary business, the AMS infrastructure will enable us to expand exponentially," said Mr Hewlett, who added that Comvita was also making the AMS system available to its partnership contract suppliers.

Comvita's chief operating officer Scott Coulter said the AMS would allow Comvita to vertically integrate into a single supply chain.

"It provides Comvita with information that allows beekeepers to use a handheld device to efficiently record hive maintenance work and any movement of equipment between Comvita locations," he said. "That gives us traceability of honey to hives, visibility of hive maintenance and ensures compliancy."

The next phases of the system would include data integration with lab testing and finance, he added.

Mr Hewlett said Comvita's acquisition of New Zealand Honey had brought in strong heritage honey brands, he said. These included Hollands and Sweet Meadows.