[29 January/Stuff Business]

The Ministry for Primary Industries has backed down on its proposed definition for Manuka honey as beekeepers claimed the proposals could cost the industry $100 million a year in exports.  NZ Beekeeping was due to challenge the proposed definition in the High Court this week but MPI have moved in advance of the court action to slash the level of required level of a key chemical marker to avert the case coming to court.  NZ Beekeeping argued the definition would mean around $100 million of honey exports would no longer be able to be called Manuka.  Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, had said when the definition was released it was based on robust scientific analysis and would help protect New Zealand’s trade reputation, however the industry said that the requirement for honey to contain at least five micrograms of 2-methoxyacetophenone per kilogram came as a surprise.  MPI’s back track sees this requirement reduced to one microgram, with the Ministry saying that new information from NZ Beekeeping showed that the definition was set too conservatively and would exclude legitimate product from being sold as Manuka.