The two leading honey suppliers to UK supermarket groups are Rowse and Steens. Rowse packs approximately 85% of all honey sold in the UK’s grocery retailers (including manuka), with Rowse-branded honeys accounting for around 42% [Rowse]. Tesco and Ocado are amongst stockists. Rowse supplied The Grocer with recent certificates of recent tests conducted by Minerva for its 5+, 10+ and 15+ NPA manuka honey products and each substantiated Rowse’s labelling claims.

“Mis-use of the descriptor ‘manuka’, attached ratings and the use of various forms of the word ‘active’ on labels have allowed UK consumers to be ripped off,” claims Kirstie Jamieson, marketing director at Rowse. “The consumer pays a premium for manuka because of its anti-microbial property and any content claim should specifically relate to non-peroxide activity NPA.

“Consumers purchase manuka because of its anti-microbial properties, ie: NPA. To allow a claim for peroxide activity (PA) is a play on words and . Given almost all honeys show a level of PA, associating manuka with PA does manuka a disservice. We have first-hand experience of this in the UK and it is quite clear the consumer is being misled by use of the word manuka along with a PA claim,” adds Jamieson.

Steens (stocked by Waitrose among others), also supplied test certificates, from Hill Laboratories, substantiating the NPA claims on its manuka labels.

“All Steens Raw Manuka Honey is certified with an NPA to give absolute confidence to consumers that they are purchasing authentic manuka honey,” says a spokesman. “Samples from every batch of Steens is tested by an independent laboratory using the best commercial test available. Every pot of Steens honey is also traceable back to source. We designed an integrated software system ‘Hive Tracker’, which collects intricate information from more than 60,000 hive components giving us a research capability that is world class. Sharing ‘track and trace’ with our consumers insures our authenticity as a company and supports our consumers’ rights to know where their honey originates.”