$5000 for a pot of Kiwi honey: Liquid gold flying off Harrods shelves

The world’s most expensive honey from New Zealand has just got even pricier.

The True Honey Company has produced a higher grade, even scarcer variety of UMF33 rated mānuka honey and has 200 jars of the liquid gold up for grabs.

London’s luxury department store Harrods has snapped up all 200 jars produced, and the honey is so rare not even True Honey is selling it on its website.

For £2595 – around $4964 New Zealand dollars – per 230g jar, the honey weighs in at close to an eye-watering $20,000 per kilogram.

Jim McMillan, founder of the True Honey Company, says the value comes from the way the honey is harvested – and how much of the sweet substance is available.

A former agriculture pilot, McMillan flies his hives into some of the most remote parts of the country where a high concentration of mānuka trees leads to the production of some of the purest mānuka honey in the world.

In the seven years that he has operated his business, his product has regularly registered high UMF ratings (the scale of mānuka purity), but the latest batch to be sold exclusively by Harrods is a new world record.

His previous batch of honey with a UMF rating of 31, which sold for $2724 per 230g tub, flew off the shelves of the department store. One customer purchased $150,000 worth of the nectar in a single transaction.

That UMF rating of 31, according to UMF Honey Association spokesman John Rawcliffe, was the highest ever recorded accredited result since testing began.

UMF testing focuses on identifying three chemical markers in the honey – leptosperin, MGO and DHA – and this honey scored off the charts in each case.

The True Honey Company’s latest batch scored an even higher UMF rating of 33 and an MGO rating (which measures its anti-bacterial potency) of 1900. Traditional mānuka honey rates from 300+ MGO to 1000+.

McMillan says the honey is the highest-rated and purest mānuka honey that has ever been made, and “a remarkable miracle of nature that may never happen again”.

He is extremely proud of the honey. “I’ve been working really hard over the last few years building a dedicated team of talented, passionate people that have gone to extremes working in some of the most remote, pristine parts of the country with such high attention to detail at every aspect of the production of that honey.

“To achieve something of that standard is something we’re very proud about.”

The True Honey Company produces its honey from the top of the North Island through to the top of the South Island. Exactly where its hives are located remain secret.

The Dannevirke-based business has been selling its products to Harrods for a number of years and is a favourite among the retailer’s ultra-wealthy customers. The department store initially reached out to the True Honey Company after learning about the story of the brand on social media in its early days of operation.

The True Honey Company’s products are sold in other stores throughout Britain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Japan and Europe.

Sales of True Honey Company products have increased significantly since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic early last year.

McMillan says consumers are now more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies, and now willing to spend more on honey and other health products.

“We are certainly experiencing a continuing increase in demand for ultra-high-grade mānuka honeys around the world, and it is fair to assume that the Covid pandemic has had a part to play in that as people focus on anything they can do to improve overall health.

“One good thing for the New Zealand honey industry, as a positive out of the pandemic, is that it has not only significantly increased demand but also awareness of mānuka honey – new markets are continuing to open and generate new interest for high-grade mānuka honey, in places where there wasn’t previously.”

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