The Sweet Taste Of Success

By Carmarlena Murdaca

The Sweet Taste Of Success

Show me the honey! A jar of New Zealand’s prized manuka honey can cost more than a bottle of French champagne – because of its rarity and because, many believe, it has unique healing properties. What is actually behind this sweet taste of Kiwi success?


New Zealand’s largest manuka honey producer cultivates 14,000 hives and beekeeping teams.

Watson & Son works in some of the most remote areas of the country. The terrain is extreme – helicopters are often needed to move hives. Former chemistry teacher and wild boar hunter Denis Watson founded the company in 2006, when manuka honey’s unique properties were scienti cally revealed. Denis directs Watson & Son and ManukaMed – a medical company researching and developing products using manuka honey. His son Dan oversees the honey operation.

Watson & Son joined in partnership with Ngai Tahu in 2015. What benefits and changes has this brought?

The Ngai Tahu partnership represented a significant strategic move in securing our position as the largest manuka producer in New Zealand and by default the world. The partnership provided increased land access, strong industry connections and valuable opportunities.

The company has entered a new venture in Kaikoura – turning a former Fonterra factory into a honey factory. 

In support of our growth programme we require key facilities including extraction and storage in strategically well positioned communities throughout New Zealand. Kaikoura represents geographically a staging-post with great potential. Obviously the quake was a setback but from adversity comes opportunity and we are proud to be part of the Kaikoura community.

Given the cultural understanding and importance of preventive medicine in Asia, what are the prospects for manuka honey in the Asian market?

The Asian market is and will remain of huge importance. There is a cultural acceptance, understanding and belief of what is inherently considered good and bad to consume as part of your diet. For a multiple of reasons the Asian community considers manuka to be hugely bene cial. As such, demand continues to grow. There is however a growing awareness around brand trust, authenticity and quality of the supply chain. It is for this reason that the Watson & Son model of total vertical integration with.control from land resource, hive numbers and honey production through to our own Black Label brand in a jar is appreciated and so highly regarded.


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