Members’ update – August 2015

Members’ update – August 2015

Identifying and Protecting ‘Signature Compounds’ of Manuka honey

The outputs of the Manuka ID Project have identified a number of characteristic ‘signature compounds’ that together yield a unique chemical fingerprint for Manuka honey. The UMF Honey Association has selected the most defining of these ‘Signature Compounds’ for their capacity to differentiate Manuka honey, and filed for patent protection to enable their ongoing utilisation in the best interests of all Manuka honey producers.

The Manuka ID Project is using a multidisciplinary team. Key leaders in this phase are identified in this update. 

Adding value to Manuka, NZ Inc., and the UMFHA through Intellectual Property (IP)

The IP generated from this work includes:

  • Identification of novel compounds specific to Manuka
  • Strengthening NZ’s honey market credibility globally
  • Exclusion of counterfeit or adulterated honey, from NZ or elsewhere
  • Protecting the value in the New Zealand Manuka positioning
  • Potentially new bioactivity from these novel compounds
  • Adding incremental value to Manuka honey producers should new bioactivity be found

Structure of Leptosperin as an example of a signature compound

Robert Snoep, Partner and Registered Patent Attorney, CreateIP


  • If the IP is not protected, the value opportunity may be diluted or even lost
  • Consumers & customers may be confused about what the correct standard should be, and premiums compromised;
  • IP not being secured may result in a loss in value to genuine Manuka honey producers

Opportunity from IP Protection:

  • Test regimes based on international best practice, with standardised results across major markets
  • Legitimate producers can label authentic product with confidence that the inherent value is recognised internationally
  • Regulatory authorities in-market will align with and lend credibility to the best practice test regime
  • New findings, including for example bioactivity may be used under licence for the benefit of NZ Inc. and UMFHA members
  • Through licensing the markers the UMFHA can secure an ongoing ROI to offset protection costs and fund future R&D programmes

Research Team

Dr Terry Braggins


Emeritus Professor Alistair Wilkins