Kiwi manuka honey exporters are enjoying a surge in demand from European markets in what’s been called a reprieve by a local industry player.
The European demand has happened because of the removal of tariffs, combined with a fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar and a strong harvest, according to Ashburton honey broker John Hartnell.
Removing a 17.3 per cent honey tariff in July, under a new European Union-New Zealand free trade agreement, was now filtering down into increased sales.
An annual sales growth of over 1 per cent has immediately resulted, with premium manuka honey retailing for up to $800 per kg in Europe. Consumer interest in the health features of the product, despite the reduction in discretionary spending, had been boosted post-Covid.
But Hartnell said the Euro exchange rate had offered some reprieve for New Zealand exporters, but, in reality, it was not going to generate the level of sales required to sell more volume.
“A sliding NZ dollar has reduced the cost of Kiwi imports by around 8 per cent against the Euro, compared to the same time last year,’’ he said.
“However, prices being paid by the large export packers are about half what they were three years ago. At some point, we will see this flow on to the importers with lower prices being offered in the market. Hopefully not too low as it takes a long time to bring them back up.’’
Overproduction of manuka honey was still a challenge and that something had to give, he said.
“We are selling around 15,000 metric tonnes of manuka honey a year,’’ he said.
“We have been producing 20,000 to 25,000 metric tonnes.
“Something has to break as honey in a drum unsold does not pay the bills or the wages. Hive numbers will continue to fall in this environment. The high was around 925,000, the low might be 600,000 before we see some stability.’’
New Zealand honey sales to the EU have risen dramatically in recent years, driven by growing interest from German consumers for Kiwi manuka blends. Sales to Europe reached $60 million last year, which was about 2 per cent of the $500m honey export market.
Though manuka hive numbers around the country have fallen over the past year by 40 per cent from a peak of 1 million, it has provided more choice of where to place the hives for Kiwi apiarists and a better quality export product.
- By Pat Deavoll