The Government is spending nearly $6 million to stop Australian beekeepers marketing their products as ‘mānuka’ honey.
“We are at a crucial juncture in the history of this industry,” says Bruce Wills, chair of Apiculture NZ, the body leading the vote. “We need beekeepers to vote and we need a clear statement from the beekeepers through this vote.
“This is a successful industry with enormous future potential for growers and processors. It is also an industry with some challenges. A commodity levy would provide the foundation and resources to realise this enormous potential,” he says.
The industry has grown significantly in the last few years, with export earnings increasing ten-fold in ten years (NZ$350 million as at June 2018), to hive numbers which have more than doubled over the past ten years to reach 895,860 hives as at December 2018.
“We need a focused and tightly managed effort to address the challenges that are currently holding us back. We also need to look past these issues to future opportunities.”
Over the past few years, the industry has seen several poor seasons as a result of adverse weather conditions, with a more recent slow-down in sales for some honeys. Wills says these need to be faced and worked through in a united manner.
The core commodity is based on honey production with a flat $0.10 per kg on all honey, applied to honey extracted for commercial purposes. This meets the Commodity Levies Act’s requirements and is seen as the most efficient means of setting a levy for the apiculture industry, similar in design to levies used to fund the horticulture and viticulture sectors.
To meet the requirements of the Commodity Levies Act, the majority of those who vote need to be in favour of a levy. ApiNZ has held extensive consultation with beekeepers around the country with voting papers going to all beekeepers with 26 hives or more.
The vote opens in February and will close at 12 noon 1 March. If the vote is successful Apiculture New Zealand intends to apply for a levy order by April 2019 with the aim of having it in place by the beginning of October 2019 for the 2019/20 season with levies payable after that season.