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NZ honey industry to benefit from new manuka test

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand’s honey industry can now test manuka honey faster and more cost effectively than ever before thanks to a new three-in-one test introduced by the country’s leading analytical testing laboratory, Hill Laboratories.

The test, dubbed the Manuka Suite, is available to producers and sellers of manuka honey across the country this month and uses new technology and methodology to test the bioactive components in manuka honey.

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush and sells for a high premium worldwide. To sell the product for a price indicative of the manuka level, producers and sellers of honey need to undertake manuka honey tests.

Hill Laboratories Food and Bioanalytical client services manager, Jill Rumney, said the new technology and methodology used in the Manuka Suite allows the organisation to group together three of their most popular manuka honey tests.

"Our new Manuka Suite test combines the three vital compounds required for active manuka honey tests; dihydroxyacetone (DHA), methylglyxol (MGO) and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), into one ground-breaking test," Jill said.

"DHA and MGO testing work in partnership to indicate the level of activity present in manuka honey and HMF testing assesses whether the honey has been heated or cooled. Previously these tests were undertaken separately.

"The newly introduced technology and methodology allow us to run our honey testing at a lower cost than before and so we are able to pass these savings on to the customer in the form of lower prices. It also allows us to turn around results quicker than ever before," she said.

The technology instrument used is Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC). This singular piece of technology prepares the honey sample, turns it into liquid form and undertakes the DHA, MGO and HMF testing.

"As an indicator of the improved speed at which we can now take these tests, we used to be able to test one sample every half hour using three instruments, whereas with the UPLC, used in the Manuka Suite, we can now test a sample in seven minutes using only one instrument," Jill said.

Jill said Hill Laboratories developed and introduced the Manuka Suite to meet the needs of its existing clients in the honey industry.

"Hill laboratories is the biggest and best honey testing lab in New Zealand. We have a vast number of honey clients and it’s of utmost importance to us to produce competitively priced tests for our clients without compromising on quality.

"The Manuka Suite is a response to the needs of existing and prospective honey clients, and we’re excited to have this offer go-live across the country," Jill said.

Well-known worldwide for its superior taste and medicinal purposes, manuka honey sells for 10 to 20 times higher than other types of honey and is estimated to earn New Zealand up to $120 million a year in export dollars.

Hill Laboratories is a 100 per cent privately owned New Zealand analytical testing laboratory and has three major testing areas: Agriculture, Environmental and Food. The organisation has undertaken honey testing since 2006 and offers a complete range of tests for the apiculture industry beyond just honey.

With its main site in Hamilton, Hill Laboratories currently has four sites in the North Island, two in the South Island, and an office in Japan.

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