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ASX-listed Bod Australia signs deal to produce hemp-based mānuka honey

Thursday 18th January 2018

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ASX-listed Bod Australia has signed an agreement with mānuka honey producer Manuka Pharma to produce a hemp-based honey product line.

Bod, a developer and distributor of cosmetics and natural medicines, is aiming to develop a range of over-the-counter and therapeutic products using cannabis extracts. It says it's building a sustainable, multi-faceted cannabis business through a deal with Swiss manufacturer Linnea Natural Pharma Solutions. The honey agreement will see Manuka Pharma source, develop and manufacture the product, with Bod then importing the honey to Australia and packaging it for sale.

While Bod describes Manuka Pharma as a New Zealand-based company, it is not registered with the New Zealand Companies' Office, and its registration with the Australian Business Register says its main business location is Belrose, New South Wales. Manuka Pharma's website, which has an Australian domain name, links the company to three brands: Australian BeeBio, Wairarapa-based Watson & Son, and ManukaMed, a company which sells wound care in the USA but whose New Zealand Companies Office registration ceased in October last year after the company was placed into liquidation.

The honey will be sold in pharmacies in Australia, and Bod also plans to target health food and supplement stores, as well as Asian markets such as China. The product will give consumers "a source of high-quality protein and essential fatty acids from the addition of hemp seeds, as well as the added health benefits of a high-grade, high methylglyoxal (MGS) manuka honey", Bod said.

Late last year, the government announced a new labelling standard for mānuka honey, set to come into force from Feb. 5, after much industry concern that non-mānuka honey was being misleadingly sold as such. The honey will be tested for four chemical markers and one DNA marker before being sold overseas as mānuka. The UK Trademark Registry has also approved New Zealand's registration of the mānuka honey name, something which the Australian Manuka Honey Association has said it will oppose.

Mānuka honey is worth $180 million to New Zealand every year, and in its statement to the ASX Bod cited a January 2016 report that global import demand for Kiwi honey was estimated to be worth about US$2.1 billion. At the time, ANZ Bank New Zealand rural economist Con Williams said the largest growth opportunities for New Zealand exporters were wealthier countries who are high consumers of honey where New Zealand has low penetration such as the US, Germany, France and other European countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

While the high volume markets tend to pay US$21-US$28 a kilogram, higher value markets will pay US$30-US$50/kg and medical grade mānuka can fetch up to $1,000/kg, Williams said.

Bod's ASX-listed shares rose 4.2 percent to 62 Australian cents.

(BusinessDesk)

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