New Zealand First has deplored the government's "wrecking ball approach" to manuka honey authentication, a process that began more than three years ago and was now being delayed until the end of this year. "The government is meddling in the definition of a manuka standard, and it is destroying the manuka honey industry," party leader Winston Peters said. "National has claimed ownership of someone else's good idea, but meddled their way to its destruction.
"After a bad summer processors have halted growth-related investment. We won't know until next summer just how many apiarists have given up, but we know there will be casualties, and this government is entirely to blame.""Why the Ministry of Primary Industries has been so tardy on this matter needs explanation. Businesses and workers in the industry are on the rack because of the government's ineptness. Valuable markets are being lost offshore. "The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) was built by science over 20 years, all of which is at risk now. Why would MPI and National produce a test regime without scientific evidence that it would work? "Manuka honey is now being devalued, degraded, and stock piles are growing. It has been delay after delay since it was mooted in 2013, and enough is enough. "After a bad summer processors have halted growth-related investment. We won't know until next summer just how many apiarists have given up, but we know there will be casualties, and this government is entirely to blame." New Zealand First had challenged this process from the beginning, and took no pleasure from being proved right, Mr Peters said. New Zealand First would scrap "MPI's wrecking ball," apologise to the entire industry for National's stuff-up, and adopt Unique Manuka Factor asap. Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) administrator John Rawcliffe said it was imperative that the country had an agreed science process in place for accurately supporting the definition of manuka honey. The UMFHA currently such a comprehensive science base that had clearly identified the methodology for confirming what was genuine manuka honey - the job has effectively been done by the industry. The science had been peer reviewed, published in leading scientific journals, and was widely accepted by overseas reference laboratories and key researchers." "It is pleasing to see New Zealand First recognising this," Mr Rawcliffe said. "We will be looking to set up an independent party over the coming weeks to establish a process for moving this issue forward with industry and regulatory bodies. Essentially, it will be business as usual for the association and its 100-plus members. "We have been waiting since 2013 for the government to take action on this matter. As a result of this inactivity our industry members have had to unite and invest in a programme that has delivered a superior and proven grading standard that is providing consumers with the confidence they need when buying genuine manuka honey from New Zealand." The association believed the manuka honey industry had a great future, based on the standard that had been proposed to the MPI.