Why Is Manuka Honey So Expensive?
Manuka honey is not only indulgently delicious but may provide several benefits to one’s health. That can include everything from boosting the immune system to providing digestive support.
The sweet nectar known as Manuka isn’t anything like highly processed commercial honey, which is why you’re not going to find it for just a few dollars on a grocery store shelf. That’s like comparing a rock to a gem. This is honey in its raw, natural state and hasn’t been pasteurized.
Of course, that doesn’t provide a complete answer as to why it has a premium price tag, so we’ll dig a bit deeper to help you understand.
What Is Manuka Honey?
Paying top dollar for a product you don’t know much about can be nerve-wracking, so we want to inform you about the sweet goodness of Manuka honey to give you some confidence in your future purchase.
You may be used to paying under $10 dollars for regular store-bought honey, but we think you’ll be willing to up the ante once you see just how beneficial Manuka honey can be. Aside from its uniquely delicious flavor and indulgent texture, Manuka honey is known for its natural cleansing properties and health benefits.
To give you a quick overview, these are just some traits of Manukora Manuka honey that are behind its high value:
- Raw and unpasteurized
- Non-GMO project certified
- Glyphosate residue-free certified
- Ethically produced
- MGO certified
- Traceable to the source through a unique QR code
- From the Golden Triangle of New Zealand
Below, we’ll dive a little deeper into why each of these traits contributes to a higher cost for an ultimately higher-quality, more indulgent type of honey.
What Does It Mean For Honey To Be “Raw”?
Raw honey and commercial honey are usually not synonymous; raw honey is kept in its natural state, whereas commercial honey is virtually always highly processed.
When it comes to honey, you get what you pay for. In other words, it’s no wonder commercially produced honey is easier on your wallet, as you’re not getting the benefits that raw honey has to offer — in fact, most commercial honey isn’t really much more than a syrupy alternative sweetener.
How Does Honey Pasteurization Work?
To fully understand the harm the pasteurization process can bring to these honey bees' intentionally crafted food source, we must dive a bit deeper.
Unpasteurized honey isn’t like unpasteurized milk or juice; consuming unpasteurized honey isn’t a health risk (of course excluding the fact that you shouldn’t feed any kind of honey to infants under the age of one).
The only reason some types of honey are pasteurized is to achieve a uniform color and texture and prevent possible fermentation or granulation (hardening).
Regular honey is pasteurized by heating it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and rapidly cooling it. Honey is extremely sensitive to heat, and this pasteurization process compromises the beneficial compounds within honey, including the ones that contribute to its ability to support wellness.
Most honey is pasteurized to help extend shelf life and achieve what’s become its standardized appearance.
That said, when beekeeping is done correctly and ethically, with love and respect for the bees and their natural process, the pasteurization process is unnecessary and detrimental to the quality of the honey.
For example, many commercial honey manufacturers actively dehydrate the honey they prematurely extract from the hive to speed up the overall process of honey production.
When bees are left alone to work at their own pace, they work to dehydrate the honey as part of their natural process — not allowing the bees to work at their natural pace results in premature honey removal and unnatural beekeeping practices.
At Manukora, we believe in working with the bees, not against them, which is why we let the bees finish their dehydration process before we harvest — and which is why our Manuka honey is so rich, creamy, and decadent without the need for unneeded heat and processing.
What Makes Manuka Honey Rare?
Limited Production Window
Manuka honey is produced from the Leptospermum scoparium tree (also known as the Manuka bush, tea tree, or simply the Manuka plant), native to remote regions of New Zealand.
The Manuka tree can only thrive in this specific climate, and only flowers for two to six weeks a year, which means the nectar supply is limited.
Honey-making is all-natural, but sometimes Mother Nature has different plans, meaning other variables can shorten the already small harvesting window. Strong winds and cold weather conditions can determine whether the trees will bloom — no blossoms mean no way for the bees to pollinate Manuka flowers.
Considering Manuka honey can only be produced for about one month each year, we get a little more insight into why this honey with superpowers is so valuable. The process of Manuka honey production and harvesting can be very delicate, and when not done correctly, it can harm the bees and their beehive.
Extensive Authentication Process
The Ministry of Primary Industries sees monofloral Manuka honey as one of New Zealand's high-value exports, which is why they try their best to preserve the integrity of Manuka honey. The MPI implements extensive testing and classification processes for all Manuka honey products.
With saturated markets, any product can fall victim to counterfeits; Manuka honey is no different. When you’re paying top-dollar for what’s being marketed as the rarest high-quality honey out there, you want to feel peace of mind that you’re getting what’s promised.
At Manukora, our honey is sent to a third-party lab for testing to determine a few key factors: its MGO (methylglyoxal) levels, DHA (or dihydroxyacetone) levels, and Leptosperin content to confirm that it is truly a monofloral honey (meaning it’s only come from the one flower, the flower of the Leptospermum scoparium tree we mentioned earlier). Testing these specific compounds ensures authenticity as well as potency.
Each of these naturally occurring compounds can be very telling. MGO is the organic antibacterial compound in Manuka that makes it a Honey with Superpowers™ along with its other naturally occurring compounds Leptospetin and DHA (a precursor to MGO).
Without these extensive testing protocols, it would be easy to produce and market non-genuine Manuka honey.
While all Manuka honey has health benefits, not all will have the same MGO levels (or strength). The higher the UMF grade, the more potent the product is.
For example, you can get Manuka honey with low levels of MGO or very high levels (like our MGO 850+ Manuka honey).
Any amount of genuine Manuka honey will offer benefits, but the most prominent benefits are usually most noticeable at a minimum of 200+ for general wellness benefits.
What Is the Golden Triangle of New Zealand?
While any genuine Manuka honey must come from New Zealand, the highest quality Manuka honey comes from a remote part of the forest called the Golden Triangle. The triangle spans from the top of the north island, the west coast, and the east cape.
This origin is comparable to how genuine Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced only in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the left of the Reno river, and Mantua to the right of the Po river, because these specific regions host the cows that eat the unique locally grown forage that makes for Parmigiano Reggiano's unique taste and texture.
Manuka honey is the same way. Genuine Manuka honey must come from New Zealand, and the highest quality Manuka Honey comes from the Golden Triangle.
What Is Ethical Beekeeping?
Honey bees are integral to creating Manuka honey — the trees, bees, wind, and sun work in harmony to produce this sweet, amber, velvety goodness. Honey is a beautiful example of what teamwork can accomplish.
Similar to how the environment can affect the harvest window, the method of harvest and overall style of beekeeping can affect the welfare of the bees.
While these bees are tough, that’s not to say they work a risk-free job. Honey bees are under constant threat from their external environment, which makes taking care of the bees through ethical beekeeping a top priority.
Ethical beekeeping is unfortunately seldom practiced in commercially produced honey, but with all of the benefits that genuine, sustainably harvested Manuka honey has to offer, ethical beekeeping is non-negotiable at Manukora.
Our bees dehydrate their honey themselves and on their own time; we don’t believe in rushing them. And when the honey is finally in its perfect, natural, raw state, we remove just enough so that our bees have more than enough left over to last them through the winter when their other food sources aren’t readily available.
At Manukora, we never use sprays or antibiotics in our honey-making process. Alongside letting the bees finish their work, we ensure every practice is ethical and sustainable. We work with Mother Nature, not against her.
On top of that, we don’t move around the hives, as is common in commercial pollination practices — the remote location keeps the bees safely away from pesticides and other human-derived pollutants, so they can comfortably work through the season without disruption.
Simply put: we put the bees first — there’s a reason New Zealand is home to one of the healthiest bee populations in the world.
What Does Traceability Mean?
Not all Manuka honey has state-of-the-art traceability, but Manukora’s does; we think it’s important for you to know as much about your product as we do.
This is why we’ve developed a special tracking system you can find on the packaging of all Manukora honey products. All you have to do is scan the QR code on your product, and you’ll be taken to a web page with every bit of information available about your specific jar of honey.
You can trace your honey back to the exact hive it was harvested from, all the tests it went through (with results to prove it), and you can even meet the beekeeper that handled your honey with care.
What Are the Health Benefits of Manuka Honey?
On top of rarity and ethical beekeeping practices, Manuka honey earns its high price tag with wellness benefits:
MGO’s Antibacterial Properties
Unlike other types of honey, Manuka has high levels of MGO, which is an organic compound that offers antibacterial properties. This naturally occurring compound can provide many wellness benefits.
Manuka honey has a range of natural prebiotics that can support gut health and your digestive system. One of the best ways to start your day off is by eating a spoonful of Manuka honey on an empty stomach — your gut will thank you later.
Manuka honey has naturally occurring antioxidants (phenolic compounds) that combat environmental stressors. Because Manukora's Manuka honey isn't processed or pasteurized, it retains these antioxidants to support your well-being.
Manuka honey is raw and packed full of natural soothing properties that commercial honey loses during the pasteurization process.
With the cold season approaching, keeping high MGO-level Manuka honey stocked in your cabinet isn’t a bad idea. Manuka honey is one of the best natural remedies to keep on hand when you just aren’t quite feeling your best and your wellness needs a little pick-me-up.
The Grand Total
Considering Manuka honey’s indulgent sensory offerings, rarity in the wild, potent wellness benefits, and various authentication methods, it’s no wonder it may cost a bit more than your average commercially-produced, store-bought honey.
Not all honey is created equal, and Manukora’s Manuka honey is some of the highest quality honey you can get your hands on — it’s Honey With Superpowers™, and with as little as a teaspoon a day, you’ll see why.
The Manuka Tree and Its Benefits | Rural Design