Tassie fights trademark sting
A NATIONAL campaign spearheaded by a honey producer in Tasmania’s North-West is gaining wings as beekeepers band together to stop New Zealand producers trademarking the word Manuka.
Manuka honey, derived from the tea tree (Leptospermum) native to Tasmania, can retail for as much as $120 a jar and is deemed a health product due to its antibacterial properties.
There are five commercial Manuka honey producers in Tasmania and a number of smaller operations that provide them with the liquid gold.
In response to the trademark application in NZ, the Australian honey industry has collectively formed the Australian Manuka Honey Association to formally oppose any attempts to monopolise international naming or market rights.
Tasmanian Beekeepers Association president Lindsay Bourke chaired the inaugural meeting of the AMHA and says local beekeepers would be “sticking it to” the New Zealanders to ensure their bid does not succeed.
“Manuka is a generic name and cannot be hijacked by honey producers across the Tasman. We have engaged legal help and are lobbying and have gained the support of the Australian Government,” Mr Bourke said.
He said the worldwide demand for Manuka honey was almost insatiable.
“It is a great niche product for Tasmanian producers. Years ago it was regarded as rubbish but now the world cannot get enough and we are not going to let NZ sabotage that for us,” Mr Bourke said.
Nicola Charles, of Blue Hills Honey at Mawbanna, which has been producing Manuka honey for nine years, spearheaded the campaign to protect the name.
“The New Zealanders have no case,” she said. “But we could take a leaf out of their book though, and learn to promote and market ourselves and what we produce better.”
AMHA chairman Paul Callander said it was amusing that the one Leptospermum species used in NZ to produce Manuka honey had been shown to have migrated from Australia — most likely Tasmania.