Page 17 - Food & Drink Magazine May 2021
P. 17

                 BY ASSOCIATION
 and viability. The New Zealand government is providing millions of dollars in financial support to progress the claims of a group of New Zealand producers for exclusive
rights to the term “manuka honey”. The New Zealand applicants are seeking to register trademarks in the US, the UK, Europe, New Zealand and China. A successful trademark application
would prevent Australia using the “manuka honey” name in that jurisdiction.
The AMHA believes
New Zealand producers are trying unreasonably to monopolise a purely descriptive term for commercial gain. The term “manuka honey” is no more than the name of a product and the plant source that it comes from, and not
suitable for trademarking. So far, no country has registered the trademark as there continues to be questions raised as to the legitimacy of registering something that would normally be considered a descriptive term. However, the New Zealand applicants are vigorously pursuing their claims in multiple jurisdictions, creating uncertainty and risk for the Australian industry, and forcing it to spend significant funds in defending its rights.
It may be easy to outsiders
to dismiss the dispute as a storm in a honey pot. But the Australian manuka industry
is integral to the reputation, success, sustainability and on- going viability of the Australian honey and pollination industries. Roughly a quarter of the nation’s commercial
beekeepers are engaged in manuka production, and destruction of that business would have flow-on effects to their other beekeeping work, including pollination services to Australia’s fruit and vegetable farmers.
In April, it appears the Australian government finally appreciated what the country stood to lose, with federal trade minister Dan Tehan engaging with his New Zealand counterparts seeking a collaborative way forward. It’s a little, and it’s late, but the entire Australian manuka honey industry is hoping it will be the start of more productive conversations with our
New Zealand colleagues. This dispute needs to be settled between the New Zealand and Australian governments as a
significant trade issue, as without this being settled there is little chance for collaboration. The unique resources found in New Zealand and Australia are sought-after worldwide and it makes sense that we work better together. This is where our efforts should be focused, not on costly, distracting and counter-productive legal disputes. ✷
      Paul Callander is the chair
of the Australian Manuka
Honey Association and
co-founder of
ManukaLife, a Western
Australian company that
develops high-grade Manuka plantations for products developed for the medical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and nutraceutical industries.
1800 769 738
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