It’s a question we get asked a lot. “So, just why is Manuka honey so expensive?” We can’t speak for other Manuka honey producers, or comment on how they do things. But from our point of view, here are a few of the reasons why Manuka honey costs more than other honeys.
Rare and precious
The unique properties of Manuka Honey are well understood by consumers around the world. Manuka honey contains high levels of Methylgyoxal, a sugar molecule found in most honeys in small quantities. But in Manuka honey, MGO can be up to 100x higher. The True Honey Co. only sells Manuka honey with at least 300mg of methylglyoxal per kilo, because that’s where that activity is proven to kick in. Manuka Honey has a very limited harvest period and can only be collected at certain times of the year. It is independently tested at New Zealand laboratories to ensure its true to label.
Well-bee-ing is everything
The stars of our show are our hardworking honeybees. So they get the dedication and attention of a high beekeeper to hive ratio. When it’s time during the season to move the hives, we do this at night for the least possible disruption, and no bee left behind. Back in 2000, the nasty little varroa bee mite was discovered in New Zealand beehives. This discovery means it’s more labour intensive and therefore expensive managing our hives. Our beekeepers have to be extra vigilant that the bees are protected against the little varroa bloodsuckers.
Top spots and true teamwork
To bring you honey from New Zealand’s best spots, we make sure people who own them get a fair deal, and a good price for the honey made on their land. Finding the best spots of Manuka bush means building solid, honest partnerships with landowners, from farmers, to local Māori tribes and the New Zealand Department of Conservation. We even came up with some clever technology called Trueview™, which lets landowners keep an eye on the hives too.
Great lengths, and long distances
Authentic New Zealand Manuka honey is a very limited resource. We go to great lengths to find the best areas of dense Manuka bush, in New Zealand’s remotest, greenest back country. This keeps any contaminants out of our honey, and makes sure that our bees have VIP access to all the Manuka nectar they can slurp. But these places are hard to get to. And with no roads for miles, bringing trucks in can be pretty hard on the native bush. So hives often need to be flown in by helicopter.
Whatever the weather
Manuka only flowers for a few weeks each year. During this time, weather conditions – anything from low temperatures to too much wind – will affect the ability of our bees to gather enough Manuka nectar. But even in years when hive yields are low, our beekeepers are still out there checking on their stripy little charges, making sure they have plenty of food as winter approaches, and that each hive is shipshape.
Lastly (but not ‘leastly) our end product is very carefully packaged in top quality glass to keep it good as gold on the shelf. Every batch is also independently scientifically tested by New Zealand lab Analytica, so that you can be sure it is what it says on the jar. This step is an extra cost – but it offers peace of mind for honey lovers, and means we can stand behind every jar we make.