‘Clean and green’: Australian and New Zealand functional honey products continue to buzz in China

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Functional honey products from Australia and New Zealand will continue to find favour in China. ©iStock
Functional honey products from Australia and New Zealand will continue to find favour in China. ©iStock

Related tags New zealand Nutrition Food

Natural products with functional claims such as honey continue to face a bright future as both a food and a therapeutic product, not least in China where demand is expected to soar.

On the eve of the opening of the National Product’s New Zealand Summit in Nelson, analysts said the powerful natural functionality of certain varieties and consumer preference for naturally functional foods over medicines were solid foundations for future growth.

They cited market-leading Australian honey company Capilano as a prime example. The company achieved a world first last year with the launch of a clinically tested, prebiotic honey named Beeotic,

Developed in conjunction with researchers at the University of New South Wales, the honey, taken at a dose of around one tablespoon daily, has been found to raise the level of good bacteria while decreasing the level of bad bacteria in the digestive tract. It is also noted that the benefits cease when the honey is not taken, hence daily consumption is encouraged.

According to market research firm Mintel, the product’s strength lies in its strong health claim positioning.

“It is unique and notable that Capilano has invested to secure scientifically proven functionality of Beeotic. Rather than rely on weak claims or implied functionality, this product can make robust claims around its efficacy and now has access to both the traditional retail and pharmaceutical channel, where it will compete with prebiotic supplements,” ​said analyst Jodie Minotto.

While Beeotic has every chance of being well received in the Australian market, the brand is also seeking to capitalise on the demand in China for naturally functional foods such as honey.

According to Mintel’s Trends in Health and Wellness – China, August 2016, Chinese people take a holistic and balanced approach to managing wellness, with mental health and good eating habits being the top priorities.

“Environmental pollution is believed to contribute most to keeping people from a healthy lifestyle, hence the appeal of food products from ‘clean and green’ Australia and New Zealand,”​ ​noted Minotto.

Manuka magic

The future also looks bright in China for a range of Manuka honey products, due to its functional properties.

"The honey possesses a powerful antimicrobial functionality that continues to attract a great deal of scientific and consumer interest due to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,”​ said Mintel.

The market research firm said new entrants to the market may wish to follow the Beeotic strategy of opening up sales channels in pharmacies.

One New Zealand contract manufacturer, Nelson-based Alaron, said it had seen a marked increase in the Manuka products it was asked to produce for a number of clients, especially in the liquid and creams segment.

The firm’s Sarah Ching told us. “We are seeing a lot of interest with Manuka honey around wound care, with a number of published papers showing its benefits. This is certainly the case in China, but also right across Asia.”

On a broader level, director Ron Geiger said the clean and green reputation of New Zealand products was as strong as ever.

“It is absolutely crucial and a major attraction for the companies we manufacture for,” ​he added.

NutraIngredients-Asia is attending the Natural Products New Zealand summit, which begins today, to bring you full coverage and videos from the event.

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