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Manukee honey drink buzz to hit NZ shelves

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by August 17, 2016 General
York Spencer is launching his premium manuka honey drink in New Zealand shops and then to Singapore and Japan.

PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

York Spencer is launching his premium manuka honey drink in New Zealand shops and then to Singapore and Japan.

A manuka honey drink that’s been years in the making is ready to launch in New Zealand.

York Spencer is the creator of Manukee​, a drink containing Manuka honey and certified as UMF 10+, using honey sourced from hives near Tongariro in the central North Island.

UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor, is an internationally-recognised trademark that licensees can use if they meet the grading system standard.

The number, which can range from four to 26, relates to the quality of the honey in the product.

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Spencer spent two years researching and developing his product before starting to sell it online in 2014 to Chinese customers.

Since then though, he has had to figure out how to produce the drink on a scale needed to meet market demands and he has spent some time fine-tuning the product.

Manukee was recognised at the recent Fine Food New Zealand Innovation Awards, winning the most innovative retail grocery product.

Manukee will soon be sold in premium grocery stores, cafes and health and wellness shops in New Zealand for about $5 a bottle.

Plans details are also being finalised for launch in Singapore and Japan.

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Spencer said the popularity of health and wellness tonics was moving faster in those markets than anywhere else. Other Asian countries look to Singapore and Japan for the latest trends.

However, challenges in those markets include finding the right distributor and time.

It could take anywhere between 12 to 18 months to get set up and have the product ready to launch, Spencer said.

Those challenges are why the Kiwi businessman is based in Singapore.

“You can’t just bounce up [to Asia] every few months. You really got to be there on a regular basis.

“The idea is to be based in a good central hub, it’s really easy to get around the markets and be working hand-in-hand with the customer and getting feedback from consumers as quickly as possible,” he said.

The dream is to become a world-leader in UMF manuka honey drinks and eventually expand the current product line of two drink flavours and to grow into more international markets.

 – Stuff

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