Honey counterfeiters are posing a major threat to New Zealand's international reputation, says one manufacturer which has come up with a high-tech solution.
Midlands Apiaries, the developers and manufacturers of the Puriti mānuka brand, says it is using more complex packaging materials and manufacturing processes to make it much harder for others to copy the product.
It say its new mānuka honey jar has 11 separate consumer security and anti-counterfeit measures.
Puriti mānuka comes in a customised cylindrical jar with a unique lid that features a thick anti-tamper seal. The jar also features a tear strip.
Puriti will feature soft-touch laminate for the label paper, high build UV and spot UV design elements as well as stamped foil for the metallic finishes.
The label has designs infused with invisible ink that's only visible under black light. Each honey jar is laser etched with a reference or word unique to every production batch.
Puriti has also cut its own symbolised image of New Zealand into the lid.
Puriti says mānuka honey exports from New Zealand are worth $180 million but that could more than double in 10 years if the mānuka brand is protected and the added value component is kept onshore.
It said in a statement: "The Ministry for Primary Industries understands the food security challenges involved in the industry and recently unveiled the official mānuka standard with the introduction of the Mānuka Honey Science Definition.
"However, the new standards only apply to exported jars and not to mānuka sold in NZ. Unfortunately, export regulations also permit bulk honey to be exported without meeting the new guidelines set by the MPI. Most brands use simple labels and the same jar design, making the counterfeit issue harder to stop. Labelling regulations differ, grading systems vary, and purity standards fluctuate when bulk mānuka is packed into jars overseas."
Puriti brand manager Adam Boot said: "We were uncomfortable with the quality choice available to the consumer and the lack of protection provided against counterfeit and fake products."