Manuka honey is flying off UK shelves - but as the Daily Mail reports, tough questions are being raised about whether all of it is genuine.

More jars of expensive manuka honey are being sold in Britain and around the world than are being produced.

The prized honey originates from New Zealand, yet demand is so high that supply cannot keep up.

The net result is that some producers appear to be substituting cheap standard honey.

The honey is only produced by bees feeding on the manuka tree which grows throughout New Zealand.


Manuka honey is feted because of its claimed anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects and can cost as much as £90 (NZ$162) a pot.

Celebrities like actress Scarlett Johansson, model Elizabeth Jagger and singer Katherine Jenkins all swear by the 'liquid gold' honey.

Jagger, 32, applies it as lip balm to protect her gums from germs and Jenkins, 36, dissolves it in hot water to help her singing voice. Meanwhile Johansson, 31, uses it as a face mask to soften her skin and 'pull away' any impurities.

Such is the appeal, the some supermarkets have found it necessary to put electronic tags on pots to trap shoplifters.

UK consumers hoping to take advantage of its claimed healing qualities may not be getting value for money, despite an attempted crackdown on bogus produce.

The Food Standard Agency's National Food Crime Unit found that a third of test samples labelled as manuka honey in the UK were 'non compliant'.

UK consumers hoping to take advantage of its claimed healing qualities may not be getting value for money, despite an attempted crackdown on bogus produce.

Research by the main honey producers' organisation here in New Zealand has revealed that 1,700 tonnes of manuka are produced there each year.

However, it is estimated that as much as 10,000 tonnes of honey labelled as manuka are sold every year around the world.


Attempts are being made by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries - where the honey is produced - to tackle the number of bogus jars flooding the market.

These include holding products prior to export but a leading producer has said not enough is being down.

Oxford-based Rowse Honey - one of the UK's biggest honey companies - says the current manuka honey labelling guidelines are 'flawed'.

Manuka honey contains a unique and vital ingredient called methylglyoxal (MGO) which is responsible for the honey's Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA).

This is only found in authentic manuka honey and is an indicator of its antibacterial properties which, according to some experts, means it can be used to treat wounds and aid digestion.

Kirstie Jamieson, Rowse Honey Marketing Director, called for tighter regulations following a report on the state of the industry in the retail bible The Grocer.

She said: 'As the UK's brand leader in authentic Manuka honey, Rowse is committed to ensuring that consumers can buy Manuka with confidence.

'The current MPI guidelines have been ineffective and unfortunately legitimised bad practise with consumers buying jars with vastly different levels of the honey's unique characteristic - Non-peroxide Activity (NPA).

'In the last year the industry has seen a relatively poor crop at a time of growing demand which has led to further price increases.

'This combination of factors could potentially encourage further malpractice and therefore tighter regulations, led by robust and proven science, are needed if we are to protect the value of authentic Manuka Honey.

'By the end of 2016 we hope that the MPI guidelines will address the critical point of correctly defining the characteristics unique to Manuka including the level of NPA that can be found in the genuine product while taking into account advances in scientific testing.'