Manuka Gold Flows Through Back Country
The humble honey bee is contributing to a quiet land use revolution in some of the country’s more remote farming regions, bringing options and opportunities for farmers and rural communities.
The growth in the Manuka honey industry has been phenomenal, surging by 45% last year to total $281 million in exports, making New Zealand the third largest exporter by value after China and Argentina, despite being only the 16th on a volume basis, as Manuka honey’s health benefits give it a touch of gold.
The Manuka honey bonanza has also bought a valuable boost to income streams for farms that only a few years ago were limited to sheep, beef and possibly forestry. And for farmers choosing to retire or exit the industry, Manuka honey has provided a valuable lift in equity levels by lifting farm values.
Interest in Manuka has bought the focus firmly back on opportunities within regions that include more remote farming businesses.
For example districts around Taranaki and Wanganui including the Waitotara Valley and inland Stratford have experienced a surge in buyers for properties. The industry is witnessing the entry of larger corporate players including Settlers Honey, Comvita and Tweeddale, all taking up property interests in these regions.
That interest is now reflected in the premiums desirable Manuka friendly properties are fetching, with land prices doubling for some properties. Those properties that may have typically have been worth $1,500 a hectare are selling for almost $3,500 a hectare, a lift experienced only in the last two years.
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