Small time beekeepers are finding it hard to sell their honey, leaving some sitting on large stocks of unsold product.

One Whanganui beekeeper says small operators usually sell to major firms rather than selling direct. But those firms are not buying.

"There's a lot of honey sitting around in warehouses at the moment. All the bigger buyers are saying 'we aren't buying any until we have sold our own'," the producer, who asked not to be named, said.

The honey industry has grown fast. The big companies have their own marketing strategies but there isn't a central marketing body that smaller players can use - a Fonterra equivalent for beekeepers, he said.


"All of a sudden we have realised we don't have a honey marketing authority. What are we going to do with our honey?"

It's been a terrific season for rewarewa honey, and he has 10 tonnes of rewarewa honey sitting in drums. He'd be happy to sell it for $8 to $10 a kilo.

"I'm not a marketer. I just want to sell to somebody who gives me a fair price, and be a beekeeper."

Oha Honey, formerly Watson & Son, is one of the big players in the industry. It has a lot of its own supply and is mainly interested in high quality honey, procurement officer Andy Bennett said.

He said at present the company had it's own supply of honey and was not looking to purchase from other operators, unless it was high quality honey.

Mānuka Farming chief executive Stephen Lee said small honey producers began having difficulty selling their product back in July last year.

"We're now coming into the second season where honey sellers are still having trouble."

Weighing in on the situation is Strategic Risk Analysis managing director Rodney Dickens, an "economics addict". In his December piece on the website, he wonders whether the problem is a simple case of supply outstripping demand.


He said he's seen similar boom and bust trends with angora goats, bitcoin and Auckland apartments.

But he also picked up on the impact of measuring honey UMF, the factor that determines the quality of manuka honey.

"Bees like nectar from things other than mānuka much more than mānuka nectar, which makes it hard to get high mānuka content unless bees are forced to rely on mānuka by being in a large area that offers them little choice but mānuka."

He's been told it takes a minimum of around 50ha of mānuka to achieve this.

"It sounds like lots of smaller honey producers may struggle to achieve a high enough concentration of manuka to get high prices, which may impact on the ability to sell the honey."