Australian Beekeepers Seek Funds To Refute New Zealand Claim To Manuka Name

Leah McBey

WHAT’S IN A NAME: Burnie’s Skoop Wholefoods owner Kirsten Goninon and co-worker Darralin Housegoh hold a jar of high-value local manuka honey.

Picture: Phillip Biggs

A grant application made by manuka honey farmers in Australia is still being considered, despite the federal department saying it was not eligible for funds.

Manuka honey producers have been waiting for the results of a November grant application to the federal Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program.

The group needs the grant to appeal a bid by New Zealand manuka honey producers to trademark the name ‘manuka honey’ in the United Kingdom.​

Australia Manuka Honey Association chair Paul Callander said he was hopeful the funds would be granted, and there was still plenty of time to lodge their appeal.

However a federal Agriculture and Water Resources spokesperson said the grant money was not for trademark cases.

“Matters relating to trademarks and labelling sit within the Industry portfolio. The department is unable to provide legal advice on any trademark matter.

“In principle, we are also unable to provide funding to assist with an association gaining a certification trademark or opposing another party’s application for a certification trademark, as trademarks are a private right,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Callander said the industry was trying to maintain access to overseas markets, and this did fall within the guidelines of the federal grant program.

“We have a legal team in the UK. The grant would certainly be a large help to help us maintain our market access.”

Senator David Bushby, who has been working with the association, said he was very concerned at the move by the New Zealanders to trademark the name.

“I have worked with (local producers) and the Australian Manuka Honey Association, to try to identify avenues for financial assistance in their fight to retain the right to market their product as ‘manuka honey’.

“The production of manuka honey in Australia is a small but important part of our economy.

“I consider it important that decision-makers understand the likely consequences to this sector.”

He said he was ensuring the new federal ministers understood the issue.