[30 January/NZ Farmer]

Comvita is predicting a recovery this year from one of the poorest honey seasons in decades and expects to return to profitability for the 2017/18 financial year.  The company last year reported an operating loss after tax of $5.5 million but Chairman, Neil Craig, says that based on a normal harvest the company expects to report a profit of greater than $17.1 million for the current year.  Comvita CEO, Scott Coulter, said that estimates currently suggest it will be an average season although the full picture would not be clear until April or May when beekeepers have completed collecting honey from their hives.  Mr Coulter said that cool conditions in spring had impacted production in the upper North Island while a storm in early January had impacted manuka flower production at a critical part of the season.  The dry conditions in the lower North Island mean that the company expects to yield greater honey production than average in these regions.