Demand for natural foods boosts New Zealand honey export

Source: Xinhua Published: 2020/7/9 14:04:01

Bee keepers work at Matakana Village, the North Island, New Zealand, Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo by Sally Chen/Xinhua)

Stronger demand for natural foods during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a boom of honey industry in New Zealand, the national apiculture industry organisation Apiculture New Zealand told Xinhua on Wednesday.

"China is one of our top three export markets, especially during the past three years when there is a growing awareness among consumers of New Zealand honey products, particularly Manuka honey," said Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand, when mentioning Chinese consumer demand.

The country exported 413 million New Zealand dollars' worth of honey in the year by the end of May, more than four times what they were worth 10 years ago. In May 2020, honey exports were worth 49 million NZ dollars, which was an increase of 17 million NZ dollars, or 53 percent, compared to the same month last year, according Statistics New Zealand.

"We are surprised by the significant increase, but if you think about consumers having access to natural food sources like honey, it makes sense in the COVID-19 environment," said Kos, chief executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

Even before the global health crisis, New Zealand honey export increased quickly during the past ten years thanks to stronger oversea demand from countries such as China, US, Britain and Australia.

2019 Apiculture monitoring program report released by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries last month also indicated an increasingly important China market, which was taking almost 40 percent of the non-Manuka honey exported from New Zealand between July and December 2019.

While Kos is unsure whether the surge in demand for New Zealand honey during the pandemic is a long term trend or short term impetus, business entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to explore markets.

John Qin is a Chinese New Zealander who owns a honey factory in Auckland for more than 20 years. Every year, he exports high-quality New Zealand honey products to the US, Europe, China and Japan. He has witnessed and benefited from the growth of Chinese market over the years.

Bee keepers work at Matakana Village, the North Island, New Zealand, Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo by Sally Chen/Xinhua)

Although his business was affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, he is now investing in digital marketing to expand his honey business.

"During the post COVID-19 recovery, when consumers pay more attention on how to keep fit and to enhance immunity, our products will see a surge in the market need," Qin said confidently.

"Honey is a seasonal output. We were in lockdown just when was usually the busiest season. Therefore the production this year is impacted. But Production and demand has just picked up recently," said Qin.

"There are big Chinese companies coming to us for high quality honey. I reckon the pandemic has raised people's awareness for health and nutrition. The consumers' demand will grow post COVID-19, so will our business."

Qin is now preparing to work with Chinese big brands to explore online market opportunities for his products. He said: "I feel positive to the future business forecast. That's why I am investing in the online marketing."

At the same time, Kos is also looking forward to working with Chinese apiculture counterparts for future cooperation between the two countries.

"I was at the 2019 China International Beekeepers Conference and International Apiculture Expo. It is important that we strengthen communications and share knowledge in relation to apiculture products, production techniques, processing technology and standards between New Zealand and China," she said.

Kos also believed that Chinese consumers' confidence in New Zealand honey products is important.

"It is critical that our products meet all the export tests and ensure the highest quality," she said. (1 New Zealand dollar equals 0.65 US dollar)


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