March 16, 2021

Honey exports continue to grow

Mānuka honey leads the way

In the year to December 2020, New Zealand exported just over $500 million worth of honey for the first time. While New Zealand honey exports have been growing over the last decade, there was a significant surge in exports in 2020. This is shown in the figure below, where we can see that in the year to December 2019, New Zealand exports were worth just $347 million. This means exports grew by almost $160 million, or 46 percent, in the space of a single year.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Export honey prices for the year to December 2020 were $40 a kg, this was well above the $15 a kg received in the year to December 2010. But export prices are slightly down on the $41 a kg received in the year to December 2019. This means that the surge in overall export value came from a large increase in export volumes as shown in the figure below.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

For the year to December 2020, monofloral Mānuka honey was New Zealand’s highest export earner.

Exploring the Statistics New Zealand export commodity data further shows that, for the year to December 2020, the largest export item/commodity in terms of value was monofloral Mānuka honey in retail packs which earned $303 million from 5.1 million kgs. This was followed by multifloral Mānuka honey in retail packs which earned $80 million from 2.4 million kgs of honey. Lastly the third largest export item was monofloral Mānuka honey extracted in bulk which earned $41 million from 1.2 million kgs of exports.

With the largest share of exports earnings coming from monofloral and multifloral Mānuka honey, where were New Zealand honey exports going?

The figure below shows the value of Mānuka honey exports to the five largest honey export markets in 2020, China, USA, UK, Japan and Australia.

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Annual honey export values to largest five export markets.

As shown in the figure, China was our largest market for Mānuka honey in terms of export value, with exports in the year to December 2020 worth $85.8 million. The value of our Mānuka honey exports to China doubled in the 18 months since the year to June 2019. Our second largest market was USA which saw honey exports grow from $48 million in the year to June 2019 to $68 million in the year to December 2020. Following this was Japan and the United Kingdom with $62 million in the year to December 2020, and Australia with $32 million in Mānuka honey exports. Of these five markets export markets, Japan had seen the fastest growth, with export values growing by 137 percent between the year ending June 2019 and the year ending December 2020. In addition of these five markets, only in Australia did we see a decline in export values, shrinking from $49 million in the year to June 2019. Potentially this decline was due to the growth in other export markets were New Zealand Mānuka honey has been able to attract higher prices.

Given the growth in export volumes of Mānuka honey, and the continued high price this product attracts overseas, we can expect to see further growth in New Zealand honey exports. As part of this growth in exports, the Ministry for Primary Industries has been reporting increased numbers of registered hives and beekeepers, as more beekeepers chase the high prices of both monofloral and multifloral Mānuka honey.

According to the 2019 Apiculture Monitoring Programme report released by MPI, as of June 2019, 854,477 hives were registered in New Zealand, with 9,510 registered beekeepers, up from 507,250 hives and 4,814 beekeepers in the year to June 2014.