The burgeoning honey trade with Japan has hit a major snag, with Japanese authorities recently rejecting four shipments of New Zealand honey because of glyphosate contamination.
Japanese authorities and the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries were in discussions about the problems.
The issue appears to have started with the introduction of a new Japanese testing regime in January which can detect traces of the weedkiller at exceptionally low levels.
Variability in testing between international laboratories has since emerged as an additional problem.
Japanese authorities have warned that if 5 per cent of imported honey exceeds its new glyphosate limits it will stop honey imports.
The trade with New Zealand was worth NZ $71million (£36.4m) last year, double the value of 2019.
Japan’s limit for glyphosate is no more than 0.01 parts per million compared with New Zealand’s regulation of 0.1ppm and the European Union standard of 0.05ppm.The rejected consignments were all within the New Zealand standard.
Honey manufacturers said the issues stemmed from Japan not having a specific standard related to honey, but putting it in the ‘others’ category.
The specified Japanese limit for flour, rye and buckwheat is 30ppm, maize is 5ppm and most of the commonly eaten vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and carrots is 0.2ppm.
Producers have been urged to ensure their bees were not foraging near crops recently sprayed with glyphosate following Japan stepping up its testing regime for the weedkiller.
They have been encouraged to speak with landowners to ensure they were aware when crops were being sprayed.