Wednesday, 22 November 2017 12:55

Sweet success in Manuka honey

Written by  Peter Burke
Manuku honey could soon earn more for a central North Maori Trust than its sheep and beef operation. Manuku honey could soon earn more for a central North Maori Trust than its sheep and beef operation.

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka.

Atihau runs 75,000 ewes, 4000 beef cows and a 700-cow dairy farm near Ohakune. The incorporation manages 32,000ha, of which 21,330ha is in pasture. It employs 50 permanent staff, has close to 9000 shareholders and its annual revenue is about $20 million.

Beijeman says they started working with a major honey producer and processer Watson and Son, starting with 400 hives. This trial gave Atihau an insight into the honey business and, having liked it the plan is to expand it.

“It’s working well economically and environmentally and is a good business to be in at the moment. The trial gave us more insight into how profitable the beekeeping business can be and because of this we have decided to keep on with it.”

Beijeman says at the current market prices, on certain classes of land, honey is more profitable than sheep and beef farming. They continue to work with Watson but could move to another processor.

The long-term vision is to accumulate 6000 hives on their property and possibly extend to other farms to further grow the manuka honey business. Atihau already has 14ha in manuka and is planting 50ha more, all on land that is steep and erosion-prone.

“Manuka doesn’t seem to worry about land class when it flowers and we get the same flower off our steep country as we get off it on the flatter land,” he says.

Beijeman says the foray into manuka has many benefits: it provides extra jobs and the revenue stream is good. This season manuka honey will earn $2.7 million for Atihau, but in the long term it will turn at least $5m profit, equalling the profit from the sheep and beef operation.

But despite this Beijeman says they want a diversified business and so will always retain the sheep and beef.

More like this

Beekeepers struggle as honey money gets sticky

The honey market downturn has impacted the profitability of many beekeeping businesses, particularly those producing the non-manuka honeys, says Karin Kos, chief executive of Apiculture New Zealand.


Parker dropped the EU FTA ball – Nats

Don’t blame the European Union for its “unacceptable” offer to NZ agriculture in current FTA negotiations, blame David Parker, says National's trade spokesman.


Grief over grain drain

A whole generation of farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding NZ-grown grain to livestock, claims Jeremy Talbot.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Fat chance

OPINION: This old mutt has always believed that any hopes of a possible free trade deal – that is any…

Health & safety?

OPINION: WorkSafe and workplace safety legislation dominate the daily operations of the private sector, including farms.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Popular Reads

Honda to quit ATVs in Aus

Honda Australia has signalled it will stop selling quads/ATVs in that country as the discussion about the effectiveness of Crush…