Science confirms genetic uniqueness in New Zealand Mānuka Honey

New scientific research testing mānuka honey samples and mānuka trees found that New Zealand varieties have a distinct genetic makeup in comparison to plants and honey from other regions. This testing solidifies the unique identity of New Zealand mānuka honey, which is renowned for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, underpinning the potential health benefits compared to other honey varieties that claim to be the same as mānuka.

The Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA), an independent society committed to mānuka honey standards, applauds the clarity for consumers of these latest findings. The two independent and peer-reviewed studies, one focusing on honey authenticity and the other on the genetic makeup of the mānuka tree, paint a clear picture:

  1. Plant & Food Research – Unlocking the Genetic Fingerprint of Leptospermum scoparium:
  • A study by Plant & Food Research, published in Tree Genomes and Genetics, delved deep into the DNA of the mānuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) across New Zealand and Australia.
  • The findings confirmed that mānuka trees from New Zealand and Tasmania (Australia) are genetically distinct enough to be considered separate species.
  1. AgResearch Food Chemistry Advances – New Zealand Mānuka Honey Stands Apart:
  • A study by New Zealand’s Crown Research Institute, AgResearch,  published in Food Chemistry Advances employed a new technique called laser-assisted rapid evaporative ionization mass spectrometry (LA-REIMS) to analyze 67 honey samples labeled as “mānuka” from New Zealand and Australia.
  • LA-REIMS successfully revealed distinct metabolic fingerprints for New Zealand and Australian varieties.

What This Means for Consumers:

The recent research underpins what has already been known by New Zealand’s indigenous Maori population for nearly 1,000 years. That New Zealand’s unique, native manuka tree is an important source of healing properties and manuka honey is part of a long history of healing.

“Consumers choosing mānuka honey for its health benefits need accurate information to select the ideal product,” says Tony Wright, CEO of the UMFHA. “Stemming from a unique tree, with its unique genetic makeup and underpinned by an unmatched body of health applications, authentic New Zealand mānuka honey is a natural health product that stands alone. By choosing authentic, UMF certified honey, you can truly harness its potency, multiple bioactive actions and experience one of the world’s most delicious health and wellness products.”

The UMF advises that, in order to be sure you’re getting genuine New Zealand mānuka honey, consumers should:

  • Prioritize New Zealand Origin: Ensure the honey explicitly states its origin as New Zealand and was packed and sealed in New Zealand.
  • Seek additional certifications: Certifications like the UMF™ quality system offer clear labeling and ensure rigorous testing standards are met.

The benefits of New Zealand’s Manuka honey were originally demonstrated in wound care with medical grade manuka honey 40 years ago. Since then researchers have become interested in its applications for coughs, colds and sore throats, supporting the immune system, gut health, and skin care.