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Manuka Honey: Controversy Surrounding Definition and Origin


This article discusses the controversy surrounding the definition of ‘manuka honey’ and its origin. Manuka honey, known for its health benefits and antibacterial properties, is produced by bees collecting nectar from the manuka plant. The Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) in New Zealand conducted scientific testing to verify the authenticity of manuka honey sold overseas.

The Debate

UMFHA Definition

The UMFHA definition of manuka honey aligns with that of New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries. According to this definition, manuka honey must come from bees collecting nectar from the manuka plant. However, the UMFHA found that all 46 manuka honey brands produced outside of New Zealand did not meet this criteria. This sparked backlash from the Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA).

AMHA Allegations

The AMHA argues that the UMFHA’s study intends to mislead consumers and suggests that only authentic manuka honey comes from New Zealand. They claim that manuka honey can be gathered from any sub-species of the Leptospermum family, including the 85 cultivars found in Australia. The AMHA awards a Mark of Authenticity to manuka honey products produced entirely in Australia.

New Zealand producers had previously sought exclusive rights to the term ‘manuka honey’ in several countries. After a legal battle with Australian producers, they withdrew from the trademark dispute. The AMHA claims that they have been forced to involve lawyers in order to protect Australia’s manuka honey industry.


The controversy surrounding the definition and origin of manuka honey continues to be debated between the UMFHA and the AMHA. While the UMFHA insists that only honey produced from the manuka plant in New Zealand can be considered authentic manuka honey, the AMHA argues that manuka honey can be sourced from various sub-species of the Leptospermum family. This ongoing dispute has implications for the labeling and marketing of manuka honey in the international market.

For more information on manuka honey and its health benefits, visit

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