Honey is one of life's treasured foods. Because of this, sometimes unscrupulous individuals and companies choose to exploit it. The reason it gets played around with human greed, plain and simple. The end consumer is always the one who pays the price for these dodgy dealings. Sometimes the scams are legal insomuch as the products can legally mislead the shopper. In other words, the front of the labels deceives and the labels at the back confuse. The video below “I Can't Believe It's Not Honey,” highlights this.
Manuka honey is prized for its wonderful health benefits. It's a popular, expensive food, and one that is always in high demand. This makes it the perfect victim for a scandal. There was a time when there was more Manuka sold than produced. You don't even have to be good in math to know that something doesn’t quite add up.
The Manuka Honey Outrage
This is a scandal that swept the world's most exclusive beehives and the supply chain that brings the product to the waiting consumer. Manuka is the prize of New Zealand's honey industry. It demands a high price and the supply always falls short of that demand. This is a honey which has antibacterial properties that are second to none. It also boasts a plethora of other health benefits. Because demand far outweighs supply, greed got the better of some, as greed always tends to do. Here are the main areas where extreme behaviors became obvious:
- Antipodean turf wars
- Hive sabotage
- Mass murder of bees
- A flood of fakes
Annual Consumption of Manuka Honey
New Zealand's leading Manuka association say the consumption of their honey in the UK reaches around 1,800 tons annually. The global consumption is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 tons. Here's the math: production of genuine Manuka is set at 1,700 tons. This is equal to around 3,000,000 small jars of honey. What this tells us is that there's a lot of fake Manuka out there for sale. Further investigations proved this to be true.
The fake stuff was found in the high street shops and online. Manuka mania, as they were calling it in Briton, had fueled this crime wave. The demand for this Kiwi product started right back in the early 1990s and it has gained momentum ever since. Sadly, a lot of consumers who thought they were getting the real deal were only getting ripped off.
When Manuka Isn't Manuka
The deliberate scandal aside, when manuka isn't manuka it might just be Kanuka. Kanuka is another quality honey from NZ, but it’s not in the same league as Manuka. It's a cheaper solution, but it's difficult to distinguish between it and Manuka, even under a microscope.
The scandal behind these honeys won't be unique to the UK either. And the higher the demand, the more ways dodgy dealers will find to con the consumer. One option, for Brits at least, is to look for an alternative. In fact, there's growing evidence that Scottish heather honey is a rival to Manuka. Not only that, but it may be even more powerful from a medicinal perspective. It's cheaper too.
Honey in the USA
Not a lot of people know this, but more than three-fourths of all honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t real. To put that in more blunt terms, it's not the end product of bees. This is according to tests done exclusively for Food Safety News.
The higher the demand becomes for honey, the more chance there is of not getting the real deal. This really is a buyer-beware market. The best way to avoid getting ripped off is to find out the actual source of the product. When you can do that, just stick to your trusted retail outlet and don't buy your honey elsewhere.