Wellington (dpa) – New Zealand honey producers said Friday they were seeking to trademark manuka honey, and give it the same kind of protection as other speciality foods such as French champagne and Scottish whisky.
The honey, prized for its apparent anti-bacterial properties and promoted by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, is made by bees from the nectar of the flowers of the native New Zealand manuka shrub, leptospermum scoparium.
New Zealand’s UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) Honey Association said global demand for the honey had led to an increase in foreign versions being sold under the same name.
“Securing the name will give customers and consumers greater confidence that the honey they buy anywhere in the world which bears the manuka honey name will be what it claims to be – ultimately sourced from the nectar of leptospermum scoparium from New Zealand,” spokesman John Rawcliffe said.
The popularity of manuka honey has seen sales at companies such as Comvita – the largest manuka honey seller in New Zealand according to Bloomberg – soar in the last year.
The honey has been shown to kill bacteria under laboratory conditions, but it is not clear whether it has a similar health impact when consumed as food or in drinks.