Each kind of honey has a different taste based on the kind of plants the bees collect pollen from. Manuka honey uses the pollen from the Leptospermum scopariumtree in New Zealand. It is a very fancy honey delicacy and is known for having many health benefits.
Since manuka honey is fancy, it is also very expensive. The main reason for this is that this kind of honey is very rare. Leptospermum scopariumanuka trees don’t grow everywhere, making this honey highly sought out for.
Manuka Honey is Rare
Leptospermum trees only grow in New Zealand, making its population very small. With the population being limited, there’s only so much honey that can be produced in a year.
Not only are the trees limited, but bad weather makes honey production even more difficult. New Zealand is prone to harsh weather and natural disasters. When a bad storm or earthquake occurs, the trees can be damaged. That means fewer trees to produce honey.
Especially since trees take a long time to grow, losing trees due to bad weather can really impact the honey production. There are already not many trees that bees pollinate, and disasters create even less.
With these, there’s never a lot of manuka honey that can be put on the market. Fewer products create higher prices.
When there is a natural product that is really expensive, there is a good chance it means that the plant it comes from is difficult to grow or harvest. This is still the case with the Leptospermum trees that create manuka honey.
First, the trees grow at a very high altitude. This growing location makes it difficult for farmers to reach the honey that is produced there. Their solution is to use helicopters to go up and collect and move around the beehives that produce manuka honey. The helicopters cost a lot of money to run, so this is an added increase to the overall price.
The manuka flowers that produce the pollen that ends up creating the honey are only in bloom for a short amount of time. In fact, they are only in bloom for 2-8 weeks a year. That does not give bees or farmers a lot of time to turn the pollen into honey and collect it.
The bloom range is wide because temperature and weather greatly impact the manuka flowers’ ability to bloom. This is where New Zealand’s chaotic weather comes into play again. The worse the weather, the shorter amount of time there is for the flowers. With less time for the flowers, that’s less honey that will be produced for the entire year.
The harvesting time helps create the shortage of manuka honey and drives the price of the honey up.
The flavor and benefits from this honey are greatly dependent on the quality of the trees that are grown and the flowers that are bloomed.
Again, if the weather is bad then the trees can be harmed. Not only will this create less overall honey, but the soil conditions from this bad weather will impact the trees still intact. The soil can become too wet or too dry, changing the quality of the honey.
People are very particular about how this honey tastes, so huge changes to the growth process of the tree and therefore honey will be noted.
As just said, people are very particular about the taste of manuka honey. There is a rigorous testing process that each jar of honey goes through. This is to ensure that only the best quality goes out.
The testing process checks for the nutritional properties of the honey, that it has a certain amount of various chemicals (the chemical compounds and makeup of the honey,) and is completely pure.
The UMFHA is the organization that is in charge of this honey testing. Not only do they test the jars before they make it to the shelves, but they’ll conduct random tests at markets to make sure that what’s being sold is the purest of manuka honey. This ensures customers that they won’t be buying any counterfeits.
This testing costs a lot of time and resources, which adds to the overall cost of this honey. The immense amount of preparation that goes into the production drives the price up.
Not only do the trees need to stay strong and healthy, but so do the bees. They are the real stars of the manuka honey show.
If a bee disease breaks out amongst the bees that pollinate the manuka flowers, then they won’t be able to make the honey. Without them making the honey, then there won’t be any honey to sell.
Beekeepers have to work hard to keep the bees from getting sick by providing the best medical attention or making sure that everything in the beehive is going smoothly.
It costs a lot of money to put so many resources into these bees, which then adds to the high price.
From skincare to restaurants, so many groups of people fight over the limited supply of manuka honey that there is. With big organizations buying up honey for their purposes, there’s much less honey for people to buy.
With a now even smaller amount of resources available, that continues to drive the price up more and more as the amount decreases.
A Not-So-Sweet Conclusion
There are so many reasons why manuka honey is so expensive. From it already being a rare resource to having its production constantly be threatened by weather and bee disease, there’s so much that goes into having this honey to sell.
Of course, a way to buy it cheaper is to buy lower quality honey. There’s a rating scale from 1-10 that the honey gets tested on, and not every jar is a 10. Getting lower quality honey will be a tiny bit cheaper than getting the best stuff. Though, even then there’s not a lot to go around.
It’s not common for many people to buy a jar of Manuka Honey, and now you know why. If you ever get a chance to try some of this “liquid gold,” then you really have had a treat.