The clever marketers at Capilano have launched yet another new brand of cheap imported honey in Australia recently – The Honey Collective.Its sourced from New Zealand and appeared on the shelves of Coles supermarkets early this month.
Doubtless the honey is a quality product, and will appeal to consumers looking for the cheapest honey they can find.
Certainly at just $4.40 for a 375gms jar, the honey is very cheap.
In per kilogram terms, the honeys retail price is just $11.70 per kg.
That undercuts the price of comparable Australian honeys by as much as $10 per kilo.
Some Australian beekeepers, and certainly Capilano’s competitors, will not welcome such a cheap honey in the marketplace.
And it will be interesting to see whether any of them requests official action, and particularly under Australia’s anti-dumping laws.
After all, how cheap must this honey be to buy, if Capilano is able to make a profit on it after recovering all the costs involved in marketing it.
Those costs include not only the cost of shipping the honey across the Tasman, but also the costs of mixing it with a small proportion of Australian honey, bottling it, packaging it and distributing it to Coles stores across the country.
Of course, given that Capilano is now privately owned by merchant bankers ( and formally known as Hive and Wellness), no one outside the company knows whether it is actually selling this honey at a loss.
But if the company claims not to be selling it at a loss, then the price it must be buying the honey at has to be so low that the dumping question inevitably arises.
Suspicions that New Zealand producers are dumping honey into Australia are, however, unlikely to be officially investigated.
There has never been an anti-dumping investigation of honey in Australia, with the industry apparently unable to organise itself to address the issue.
So Capilano and its New Zealand suppliers may well get away with its latest marketing initiative.
But the move will add to growing friction between Australian and New Zealand beekeepers, with Australian honey still banned from sale across the Tasman.
The ban was originally justified as a bio-security protection, but has long outgrown its historical rationale.
Indeed, nowadays the ban should logically work the other way, with Kiwi honey banned from Australia, given that kiwi hives are widely infested with varroa mite, whilst hives here are not.
There is some evidence of recent movement on this issue, however, in the April issue of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council newsletter.
In News from the Chair, Trevor Weatherhead writes that the industry has made requested the issue be raised at an upcoming meeting between Australian and New Zealand agriculture officials.
For more information go to www.honeybee.org.au