Aussie apiarists stung as Kiwis claim Manuka honey naming rights
A well balanced article in the Australian by Matthew Denholm, Tasmania correspondent. Manuka Honey Naming Rights is a contentious issue. This article summarises some of the implications for both Australia and New Zealand quite well. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out once the courts in the various countries evaluate the issue against their legal frameworks. This will likely involve delving into the history of Manuka Honey in both Australia and New Zealand. For many years we have called our Manuka Honey “Jellybush” though we understand that it has also been referred to locally by other names such as Tantoon or Mountain Tea Tree. Certainly for now Australia’s Manuka Honey is Active Jellybush Honey and as for naming it Manuka, the jury is out!
On the surface, there could hardly be a sweeter, more wholesome industry, but honey production faces an escalating and increasingly sour trans-Tasman trade dispute.
A fight between New Zealand and Australian honey producers over the right to market manuka honey, produced by bees from the manuka or tea-tree bush, has now spread to five countries.
Kiwi producers have in recent days revealed they have applied for exclusive trademarks on “manuka” honey in key markets: the US, Britain, China, Australia and NZ.
Alarmed at the attack on a growing export market, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council has engaged trademark lawyers and is preparing “to fight like anything” to continue to be able to market its own manuka.
In addition to trademark or intellectual property applications, Kiwi producers have adopted a broader strategy to freeze out other manuka producers, including via free-trade agreements, starting with the EU.
As well, they are lobbying the NZ government to extend geographical indicator laws that protect regional wine to manuka honey, despite the absence of any region called “manuka”.