Business / Companies

Only authentic Australian honey sold to China: Capilano CEO

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-15 15:33

SYDNEY - Australia's Capilano Honey only exports 100 percent authentic Australian honey to China and nothing less, assured its top executive.

The company's chief executive Ben McKee said the company has never sold blended honey originating from different countries other than Australia to China.

"Claims that we buy honey from China and sell them back (to China) under our brand Capilano is not true at all," he told Xinhua.

"Though Capilano brand has used blended honey in the past, it was never sold to China, probably in the Middle East," he said.

McKee said the practice of selling blended honey under its Capilano brand started four years ago as Australian beekeepers were not producing enough honey for local and international markets due to the drought.

"That was when we started blending the honey (with those from other countries)."

"We used a lot of the honey from Argentina, as we have a plant there (producing honey) since 2013," he said.

Besides Argentina, the company also bought honey from Brazil, Hungary and China to meet the shortfall. As for Chinese honey, McKee said the company purchased them in huge amounts and sold them to Australian restaurants for cooking purposes.

He said any Capilano brands consisting blended honey were labelled right from the start with the phrase "from imported ingredients," which indicated to customers that they were not buying authentic Australian honey.

He added that Capilano brands with blended honey only consists 15 percent of overseas produce while the rest were derived from Australian beekeepers.

However, McKee said since last month all Capilano brands were no longer dependent on imported honey as the shortage had been addressed with Australian beekeepers stepping up their game and producing enough for domestic and overseas markets.

Meanwhile, Capilano's sales director Peter McDonald said the company's secondary brand Allowrie is mixed with honey imported from China, Mexico and Argentina but the product is only sold within Australian shores.

"We introduced Allowrie in 2002 during the severe drought period," McDonald said.

"If you see Allowrie sold on Taobao (Chinese online website) it's probably by individual sellers and has nothing to do with our company."

Capilano honey has been in China for the past 10 years and contributes up to 3 percent towards the company's overall revenue.

Recently, Fairfax Media reported that Capilano, partly owned by Australian billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes, had applied for a gag order to stop beekeeper Simon Mulvany from publishing social media posts that had accused the company of selling toxic imported honey that contains Chinese and Argentine ingredients.

Melbourne-based Mulvany told Xinhua that he strongly believed that honey exported to China under the Capilano brand was not of pure Australian honey but a mixture from various countries, including China.

"I am passionate about bees... and I am doing this because I want them (Capilano) to stop importing honey and exporting it out (as Australian honey) as they are affecting Australia's reputation," he said.

Mulvany also said Capilano's chief executive McKee would meet him on Friday in Melbourne to mediate a solution that could possibly lead to the end of the litigation.

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