The Honey Lab
In 2013 our laboratory received 1,601 samples on which we performed 9,582 analyses and recorded 12,445 measurements.
We started our honey analysis laboratory at Airborne with our move into exporting in the mid 1980s to ensure the quality of our products met the standards of importing countries, particularly Germany and England. However once we started on our quest for excellence, we never looked back.
From the early beginnings we started to develop quality control systems using Key Parameter Profiles (KPP) for the top New Zealand honeys, and now have a database of over 30,000 samples (of New Zealand honeys) against which to profile new samples of honey offered to us for sale. Such a database is the only current way of ensuring repeatable, true to label quality. By measuring the KPPs for each honey type, and comparing them to the known database, we are consistently able to provide true to label products where others are unable to do so.
This undertaking has meant often pioneering new laboratory techniques for honey, along with developing software, quality systems, and new artwork and packaging to convey the total message to our final customers - the consumer.
In 1987 we developed a standardized sampling system enabling honey producers to create repeatable, representative trade samples for sale of their product. This was subsequently adopted as the New Zealand wide sampling system and is the core of our quality system.
At the same time we implemented a complete raw material tracking system with barcode technology enabling complete trace-back, production control and auditing. Armed with the batch code from the product we are able to provide total traceback right to each apiary that the product came from.
Honey identification in the laboratory can use a wide range of analyses, and we rely predominantly on colour, pollen analysis and organoleptic properties, but we also measure and utilize :
- PH levels
- Sugar spectrums (HPLC method)
We also use our laboratory to control quality parameters associated with processing, e.g. HMF which is associated with and linked to aging and heating of honey.
Today, our laboratory is at the heart of all our processes, and the foundation of product development for the future.