Frequently Asked Questions

What is Manuka honey?
Manuka is the name commonly given in New Zealand to the leptospermum plant species, from which the famous medicinal honey is harvested.

There is significant global demand for medicinal honey and the proven anti-bacterial properties of New Zealand’s premium Manuka honeys have secured high prices for New Zealand producers.  Manuka honey’s medicinal qualities are known to:

  • Stimulate healing, reduce inflammation, minimise scarring
  • Assist in fighting bacteria related to sore throats and stomach ulcers
  • Augment the impact of antibiotics and may reduce or mitigate human resistance to antibiotics
  • Improve immunity and boost energy levels

New scientific research by the Oz Honey Project has proven that the anti-bacterial activity level (measured as NPA and MGO) in Australian Manuka honey is at least as high as in the better known New Zealand Manuka honey and shares the same health and well-being qualities as the New Zealand varieties.

Explaining the ratings
A rating system developed by New Zealand’s UMF Honey Association is commonly used by New Zealand producers to grade the activity levels of Manuka Honey. The New Zealand industry trademarked the UMF® rating to indicate the non-peroxide or antimicrobial activity level in New Zealand Honey. Australian producers use an equivalent rating, known as NPA (Non-Peroxide Activity).

The organic compound methylglyoxal (MGO) is responsible for much of the unique activity in Manuka honey. The measure of the amount of methylglyoxal is expressed on labels in mg/kg of MGO. There is a relationship between MGO concentration and the Non-Peroxide Activity level of a honey but the numbers are derived from different types of tests.

The UMF Honey Association suggests this guide to the relationship between NPA and MGO levels:
NPA/UMF® 5+ = MGO 83
NPA/UMF® 10+ = MGO 263
NPA/UMF® 15+ = MGO 514
NPA/UMF® 20+ = MGO 829

The NPA levels of the Manuka/Jelly Bush honey, typically ranging from 5+ to 25+, generally dictate what it will be used for. For instance, the lower strengths of 5+ to 9+ are used to support good general health, strengths of 10+ to 15+ are considered medically useful. The stronger Manuka Honey strengths of 16+ and above are classed as medical grade honey and can be used to treat wounds.

Gustare’s Australian Manuka Jelly Bush honey has been tested by Dr Peter Brooks, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of the Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia and also a member of the Oz Honey Project’s research team.  The tests proved that this particular variety has a NPA rating of 5.1 and MGO rating of 86.

Gustare is offering our first Manuka honey at a low-price entry point to encourage consumers to try the product and will be introducing higher grade active honey in the future.

Is Manuka honey unique to New Zealand?
Actually, No. New Zealand Manuka honey derives from the leptospermum plant, which is native to both New Zealand and Australia. There is one species of the leptospermum genus – the scoparium – in New Zealand.  Australia is home to over 80 species of leptospermum, the largest diversity of the genus in the world. The leptospermum scoparium species itself is native to the Australian states of Tasmania, Victoria and in southern parts of New South Wales.

Gustare’s Manuka Jelly Bush Honey is harvested from the Leptospermum polygalifolium species, native to the Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland.

Manuka honey is in demand globally not because it is from New Zealand but because of its activity levels which give it medicinal qualities.  New Zealand producers are unable to meet the increasing demand for medicinal honey, which has resulted in suppliers blending or diluting Manuka honey or selling fake products. Successive poor harvests in New Zealand are likely to make meeting international demand even more difficult.

The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries has recently introduced a new scientific test for Manuka honey. This test and the regulations which will be introduced to govern the industry in New Zealand are designed to ensure that New Zealand beekeepers and suppliers are only selling genuine, undiluted Manuka honey to both the domestic and international market. This will be important in protecting the integrity of New Zealand products but will not affect the development of Australian active and medicinal honey.

The Australian active honey industry is still in the early stages of development but has huge potential. Gustare Honey and other Australian producers stand behind the provenance and integrity of their active honey, which is submitted for independent scientific tests before being marketed as Manuka or Jelly Bush Honey, and look forward to meeting the international demand for medicinal honey.

Why are we using the term “Manuka”?
We call our active honey Manuka Jelly Bush honey in recognition of the popular names of the leptospermum species in Australia and New Zealand. We are following Australian industry practice in in labelling honey harvested from leptospermum plants as Manuka honey and seeking to grow international awareness of the popular Australian name (Jelly Bush) for leptospermum.

Ultimately our Manuka Jelly Bush honey should be judged on the scientifically-proven activity levels in the honey. As recent investigations in the UK have shown, the names “Manuka” or “New Zealand” on jar labels are not proof of the health and well-being properties of the honey.

New Zealand’s proposed General Requirements for Export (GREX) of Manuka Honey

What products are subject to the New Zealand General Requirements for Export?
Only Manuka Honey originating in and exported from New Zealand has to meet the scientific definition developed by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

What does this mean for Australian Manuka or Jelly Bush honey?
The New Zealand Government has no authority over Australian honey exports and Australian producers do not have to meet New Zealand’s definition of Manuka Honey before exporting Australian Manuka or Australian Jelly Bush or other active honey.

Australian producers, including Gustare Honey, are committed to independent scientific testing their product prior to sales to prove antibacterial activity levels in the honey and ensure all products are true to label.

Does the new scientific definition for New Zealand Manuka Honey suggest that New Zealand Manuka products are better than Australian Manuka or Jelly Bush products?
No, the test related to the new definition is designed only to test whether New Zealand Manuka Honey derives from nectar from Manuka plants found in New Zealand. It does not provide grading of the activity levels of the honey. The health benefits of Manuka honey are associated with the antibacterial activity levels of the honey, which are present at similar levels in both New Zealand and Australian Manuka honey products. There is no proposed change to the grading system for activity levels in Manuka honey.

Are importing countries obliged to enforce New Zealand Government labelling rules for Manuka honey?
No, labelling rules are the prerogative of national governments but importing countries will likely be receptive to suggestions from New Zealand that pertain to New Zealand exports. As there is at present no international trademark that restricts the use of the name Manuka, Australian producers of leptospermum honeys are able to label their products with the familiar name, Manuka.

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