Superbee has advertised its popular Gold Coast honey and bee display centre for sale.
Known as Honeyworld, and featuring bee-keeping demonstrations up to five days a week, the centre is well-located in Currumbin, near the wildlife sanctuary.
It has been operating for more than a decade, and is a popular destination for tour buses and visitors to the Gold Coast generally.
Superbee is one of Australia’s largest honey packers, and exports much of its production.
Originally established on the Gold Coast by the Bell family in 1968, the Christiansens – Ross and Cheryl – took over in 2005, and relocated the honey factory to Forbes, in regional NSW.
Superbee claims to produce as much as 2000 tonnes of honey every year and has devoted significant efforts in recent years to Asian markets, and particularly China.
It has a number of distributors in that country, and has recently developed a strategy aimed at Chinese ecommerce platform – Kaola.com
Superbee also has a significant export business to Hong Kong, and markets its honey internationally under as many as five different brands as well as white-labelled or OEM honey.
Earlier this year the Australian government export promotion agency – Austrade – included Superbee in its success stories.
It said that Superbee currently exports to more than 15 countries, including China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.
Sandra Hessel, Administrative Assistant and Export Manager at Superbee, told Austrade that exporting is a key focus of the company’s business strategy and that China is now Superbee’s number one export market.
‘Chinese culture holds a strong belief in the natural healing abilities of honey, and it is this belief that brings increased demand for our products in the market,’ she says.
‘Chinese consumers also consider Australian products as high quality and safe for use, further strengthening demand for our products.’
Prior to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), Superbee products faced a 15 per cent tariff on entry into China. Under ChAFTA, the tariff has reduced to 3 per cent, with total tariff elimination expected by January 2019.
‘We have a couple of staff who live in China and work for the company,’ said Hessel.
‘This really helps minimise the language and communication barrier when our Chinese customers prefer dealing with people who can speak their language.’
Honeyworld interested parties are invited to contact Cheryl Christiansen on 0423591573 or via email to email@example.com
Australia’s largest supermarket chain – Coles has announced it will no longer stock or sell Capilano’s imported Chinese honey brand – Allowrie.
A spokeswomen for the supermarket chain told the Sydney Morning Herald that the decision reflects Coles preference for selling locally-produced products.
Capilano CEO Ben McKee, told various media outlets that the company has worked together with Coles to develop alternative products for its biggest customer.
He denied that the decision reflected customer complaints or quality issues.
It is a fact, nevertheless that the honey in question is mainly sourced from China, and has been the focus of considerable concern amongst Australian beekeepers and honey consumers.
Not only is the honey very cheap, and under-cutting Australian honey in the market, but the product label nowhere discloses that the product is mostly Chinese.
Doubtless that is because China’s honey industry has a significant problem with adulteration and fraud. Indeed America banned Chinese honey imports more than a decade ago after testing revealed chemical additives.
Critics have suggested that Capilano’s failure to disclose Allowrie honey’s Chinese origins on the label is effectively a deception practised on Australian consumers.
So the news that Coles has dumped the Allowrie brand has been hailed in some quarters as a big win Capilano’s highest profile critic – Simon Mulvaney.
Mulvaney, who is founder of Save the Bees Australia – has been very energetic in his criticism of Capilano’s enthusiasm for Chinese imported honey, and particularly on social media where he has thousands of followers all over the world.
Capilano has been less than comfortable with that criticism and the company is expecting to soon make Mulvaney pay a very steep price for some of his less temperate public remarks via a defamation action in the Supreme Court of NSW.
Even so, Coles decision appears to have spurred Mulvaney and his supporters into fresh efforts to bring Capilano to account for its questionable market behaviours.
One recent Mulvaney social media posting even labelled McKee a fool, and accused him of avoiding public questioning at an industry conference.
No doubt, with Woolworths – Australia’s second largest supermarket chain – confirming it will continue to stock and sell Allowrie branded honey, both Capilano and McKee can expect to remain a target for bee activists and consumer advocates.
Testing of New Zealand Manuka honeys has confirmed that they contain chemical residues. However the levels are considered safe, and do not to pose any threat to consumers.
The residues are left over from the chemical treatments that NZ beekeepers use to control Varroa mite infestations.
Australia is the last country in the world free from the Varroa mite, so local beekeepers generally don’t use chemical treatments to keep their bees healthy.
But with NZ bees it is a different matter.
Indeed, up until now, it has been presumed that NZ Manuka honeys sold in Australia are contaminated with Varroa control chemicals used, and but not confirmed.
That’s because NZ honey imports are never tested for chemical residues.
Honey imports into Australia from some other countries have been subject to tests.
Turkish honey imports became subject to routine testing following the discovery of Turkish sugar syrup being passed off as honey.
But NZ honey has never been tested, for two reasons.
First because there has never been any concerns raised, and second because NZ honey has been considered exempt under the various trade and/or other treaties governing Trans-Tasman trade.
However the political and regulatory environment for trans-tasman honey trade has recently become more sensitive.
That’s not just because NZ is continuing to ban Australian honey imports.
The increased sensitivity is also a reflection of NZ efforts to monopolize internatinoal Manuka honey markets with a global trademark .
Thats the background in which the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council recently decided to test NZ Manuka honeys for chemical residues.
And according to a report in AHBIC’s May newsletter the tests found chemical residues in all five of the samples.
Specifically, the tests found residues of the chemical amitraz (and/or its metabolites).
It also found that these were below the maximum residue levels (MRLs) set down by the NZ government for honey (i.e. 2 parts per million).
Source: AHBIC newsletter May 2018
The New Zealand Beekeeper, May 2017, Volume 25, number 4.
Update – May 21st 2018
Comvita has announced that the mooted Chinese takeover will now not proceed.
A statement released by the company on the 21st of May said the price being offered was too low and that directors “unamimously agreed to withdraw from the process”.
Original story as Published on May 14 2008
Speculation is afoot that New Zealand’s largest Manuka honey producer – Comvita may soon be sold to a Chinese government owned business.
News of the possible sale emerged in the middle of April when Comvita revealed that its 2018 honey production and profits will be less than previously announced.
Comvita CEO, Scott Coulter, in a statement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZSX) on 16 April, said this years honey crop is well down on what the company had forecast just a few months ago.
“We’ve now completed 80% of extraction for the season and tested 50% of our honey.”
He said that yields were “well below expectations” and ”around half of what we budgeted.”
Comvita may not be alone, however, in experiencing a less than average honey season for 2017/18.
Karin Kos, chief executive of industry body, Apiculture New Zealand, said recently that whilst this years honey season was better than last years, “variable weather conditions over the last few months have interrupted the honey flow and, as a resut, we are looking at a slightly below average 2017/18 season.”
Comvita chairman, Neil Craig, said that whereas the company’s 23rd February statement to the NZSX had forecast a full year net profit (after tax) of $NZ17million, the likely result “will be in the range of $NZ8-11million”.
He added that the company has signed a confidentiality agreement with a third party who is doing due diligence on the company’s books and accounts to “assess the potential acquisition of all or substantially all the shares in, or assets, of Comvita…”
Press reports have subsequently identified the company’s Chinese joint-venture partner – the government owned China Resources NG Fung – as the likely buyer of Comvita.
However this has yet to be confirmed, and in any event the Chinese may prefer to wait to see if the company’s share price slides even further, and Comvita becomes cheaper to takeover.
Certainly news of the profit disappointment hit the company’s share price hard, and also focussed renewed attention on the significant levels of debt Comvita is carrying on its books.
The latest half years accounts appeared to show debt climbing $NZ20million, and totalling more than $NZ80million.
For more information go to www.comvita.co.nz
Since it was founded in 1995, Sydney based Australian By Nature (ABN) has become one of Australia’s leading sellers of honey and hive products, and especially Manuka honey.
But despite its name, ABN has only ever sold New Zealand sourced Manuka honey.
That may be about to change however, because of a new co-operative of beekeepers in Queensland and NSW set up with the help of the Australian government’s Farming Together programme.
Richard Symes, a founding member of the Australian Beekeepers Co-operative, told the Weekly Times recently that the co-op will be working with ABN to market a jelly bush (i.e. Australian manuka) honey.|
ABN chief executive Graham Jones also spoke with the Weekly Times and said that the increased availability of local manuka honey was a key factor in the decision.
“I couldn’t get enough Australian manuka (when I started the business 23 years ago) so we started bringing the New Zealand product in, and I invested in beehives over there to secure our product,” he said.
“Now we’re working with the co-op to build a product with the same profile, quality and level of branding of New Zealand manuka honey.”
Brisbane based, Honeybiz Australia Ltd, owners of the popular ‘Natures Gold’ brand of Australian Manuka honey and related products, is also working in the new co-operative.
Natures Gold is both a member of the co-op and a buyer of its honey,
and has also partnered with the co-op in a packaging and processing facility with a $120,000 aeration plant.
The aeration plant is said to prevent the Manuka honey from crystallizing and is claimed to be the only one of its kind in Australia
A blog posting on the co-op’s web site at abchoney.com.au reports that the co-operative was formed by a group of 12 apiarists, along with a small group of investors.
Initial founder and foundation chairman is Latvian-born beekeeper Ugis Lauberts.
ABC Honey Pty Ltd is the co-op’s marketing arm, whilst Honeypack Pty Ltd, is the joint venture company set up to own and operate the new packing facility.
For more information go to