New tool has in­dus­try buzzing

Waikato News - - NEWS -

With New Zealand’s an­nual honey ex­ports cur­rently val­ued at $300 mil­lion and grow­ing, a new web-based honey blend­ing tool is set to save honey dis­trib­u­tors sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time and money.

The tool, de­vel­oped by a team of sci­en­tists and data an­a­lysts at Hill Lab­o­ra­to­ries, al­lows honey dis­trib­u­tors with large in­ven­to­ries to eas­ily blend in­di­vid­ual hon­eys to form a tar­get blend to meet spe­cific sales and ex­port cri­te­ria.

New Zealand pro­duces around 15,000 — 20,000 tonnes of honey each year. Most honey bought from a su­per­mar­ket is blended honey.

The Honey Blend­ing Tool won the Roy Paterson Tro­phy at the Api­cul­ture New Zealand con­fer­ence in July for the most in­no­va­tive idea or in­ven­tion de­signed to ben­e­fit bee­keep­ers.

Hill Lab­o­ra­to­ries mar­ket sec­tor man­ager for food, bio­an­a­lyt­i­cal and mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy Mark Jones says in a grow­ing in­dus­try, ex­ported honey must meet very strict cri­te­ria set by the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) and over­seas mar­kets.

“Pre­vi­ously honey dis­trib­u­tors could blend honey to just a few mark­ers, such as MGO and su­gar lev­els, but now with MPI’s tight­ened food safety reg­u­la­tions, ex­ported honey has to meet much stricter and more com­plex cri­te­ria,” says Jones. “The Honey Blend­ing Tool takes the guess work out and cal­cu­lates ex­act honey blends to meet the cri­te­ria re­quired.”

To use the tool, honey dis­trib­u­tors log in to a web-based por­tal and en­ter the ex­act com­pounds and spec­i­fi­ca­tions they want to achieve in their blend. The app then scans through the honey drums in their in­ven­tory and spec­i­fies the op­ti­mal set of drums to make the re­quired tar­get blend.

A large-scale honey dis­trib­u­tor can have more than 1000 honey drums, weigh­ing 300kg each, on site at a time.

“The tool en­sures that when you en­ter the de­sired honey spec­i­fi­ca­tion, in­clud­ing the UMF rat­ing, you get ex­actly what you want,” says Jones. “Pre­vi­ously, it was very easy to over spec­ify a honey blend and ‘give away’ more value than you needed to.

“Pro­vid­ing the ex­act cal­cu­la­tion for honey blends and their UMF rat­ing al­lows honey pack­ers to max­imise the value of their honey in­ven­tory.”

Jones says the tool has had pos­i­tive feed­back from in­dus­try, in­clud­ing an award at the Api­cul­ture New Zealand con­fer­ence, which he says came as a wel­come sur­prise.

“It was great to be recog­nised for the hard work that’s gone on be­hind the scenes with the tool, and with honey be­ing a core fo­cus for our team we were pleased to see our ef­forts pay off.”

Dr Kyle De­vey, re­search and devel­op­ment man­ager at Hill Lab­o­ra­to­ries, led the devel­op­ment of the tool and says he’s pleased with the end re­sult.

“Our team worked hard on it for months and we’re re­ally happy with how it’s come to­gether,” he says.

Photo / Sup­plied

From left: Hill Lab­o­ra­to­ries key ac­count man­ager Kellee Hen­ton, Api­cul­ture NZ CEO Karin Kos, Hill Lab­o­ra­to­ries sec­tor man­ager Mark Jones, Api­cul­ture NZ Chair Bruce Wills.

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