Comvita sets up JV with East Taupo Lands Trust to secure honey supply

Comvita, which produces health products derived from manuka honey, has entered into a joint venture with East Taupo Lands Trust to harvest manuka honey, securing the supply of its main ingredient.

The joint venture Kaimanawa Honey GP will initially start with 3,000 hives to harvest manuka honey on Ngati Tūwharetoa trust’s land holdings, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Comvita will provide the beekeeping equipment and management systems while East Taupo Lands Trust will lease the land to the joint venture.

“It is not so long ago that manuka trees on Maori land blocks were being cut down for firewood,” said  East Taupo Lands Trust chairman Jim Maniapoto. “Today we recognise the value of manuka and the initiatives offered by Comvita.

“East Taupo Lands Trust have vast resources and Comvita has expertise and access to world markets. We acknowledge this partnership and the development of Kaimanawa Honey GP Limited will realise education and income opportunities for New Zealanders.”

In July Comvita acquired Timaru-based New Zealand Honey Producers Cooperative for $12.3 million. The honey business has been buying apiaries to shore up its own supply of raw honey.

Comvita is due to report its first-half earnings on Wednesday, and have previously said the second half of the year will outperform the first six-month period, due to uneven sales between the northern and southern hemispheres, and after the honey harvest is collected between January and May next year, which will generate revenue from the beekeeping operations.

Comvita expects net profit of between $9 million and $10 million in the year ending March 31, 2015, up from $7.6 million a year earlier, on revenue of between $140 million and $145 million, up from $115 million, it said in September.

Shares of the NZX-listed honey business rose 1.2 percent to $4.15 and have gained 13 percent since the start of the year.

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