New Zealand-based Fosters Honey is bringing its mānuka honey to the U.S. and in the process, working to connect with retailers by offering the product as an addition to the private label program.
The company’s desire to reach east across the Pacific Ocean stems in part from the extended lockdowns in China, which led the company to look to other parts of the world for new markets.
Officials with Fosters Honey told Store Brands the company is excited about the potential in the U.S. and “enjoys doing business with a country that shares our values. As beekeepers, we are just entering the export market and have yet to develop our own brand. We also want to make the product available to American consumers and give them the opportunity to test the product and its health benefits.”
The honey sold by Fosters is made by bees foraging on the nectar of the Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka) trees, a native tree of New Zealand that is the dominant plant used in regenerating native bush where land is unsuitable for other types of farming.
Company officials said the strongest honey grows where the plants are most stressed, in environments that are remote and hostile.
Fosters honey carries a rating of MGO 200+ to MGO 900+, which rates the level of the antibacterial chemical methylglyoxal (MGO) contained in the honey. The higher the rating, the stronger the antibiotic properties of the honey.
For example, mānuka honey with a rating of MGO 200+ offers an “adequate” activity level for antibiotic treatment in wound care, oral care and digestive health. Mānuka honey with an MGO 800+ rating offers a “superior” activity level for the same aforementioned antibiotic treatment. All ratings are verified by an independent testing laboratory, company officials said.
The window for honey collection is tight as there is only a six-week flowering window for bees to collect nectar from the mānuka trees. That said, Fosters officials said the MGO in good mānuka honey increases as it is stored and matures. The company ages a portion of the honey collected each season to have the range of MGO grade available throughout the year.