A New Zealand company has spent seven years developing a unique platform that will safeguard the more than 800,000 hives in New Zealand.
ApiTrak, which launches this month, allows everyone - from hobbyists with 10 hives, to corporates with over 10,000 - to easily track and verify their product throughout the value chain.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Hayden Stowell says ApiTrak maintains the confidence of overseas consumers and regulators in the integrity of New Zealand Manuka honey, by ring-fencing the industry to easily identify stolen or adulterated product and provide consumers with clear traceability.
“Consumers worldwide are increasingly seeking assurances that everything they eat is safe and can be reliably traced back to its point of origin.
“They want to be able to connect with where their honey is from.”
ApiTrak software can be utilised at every step of the supply chain and its advanced authentication system verifies product and captures all critical tracking events.
The cloud-based GS1 compliant system allows users to track honey throughout the supply chain, utilising small NFC (near field communication) tags, which are attached to hives, drums and jars.
Hayden says the ApiTrak complements existing systems and is managed through a web-based platform and proprietary smart phone apps, meaning no expensive extra hardware is needed.
The surge in beekeeping over the past five years, as cited in recent media reports, has created an increased need to safeguard the valuable honey industry.
“By June last year there were estimated to be almost 700,000 beehives, this has grown by at least 100,000 since - our industry is in fast growth. The high market demand for Manuka honey in particular is driving an increase in hive numbers.
“And with larger numbers entering the industry, there are more pressures on land use, and an increased need to ensure hives are correctly sited and that honey can be securely tracked from beehive through to shelf.”
ApiTrak Chief Technology Officer Duncan Williamson says the platform goes well beyond the hive management-only systems offered by some other providers. “ApiTrak can be integrated with existing hive management systems, providing a bolt-on service to the many platforms that lack our food safety compliance functionality. Our long-term aim is to help create a fully connected industry with robust traceability and food security.” Sean Goodwin, Chief Executive of 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Honey, and a member of ApiTrak's advisory board, says the ApiTrak team had put in a great deal of effort to engage industry participants and ensure they not only created an innovative system, but one that would be widely utilised.
“The key to ApiTrak is the integrated, end-to-end nature of the system, which provides benefits for every user,” he says.
Goodwin, who is also deputy chair of both Apiculture New Zealand and GS1 NZ and so has strong insight into the requirements of industry and international standards says ApiTrak had significant potential on the global stage.
Jamie Te Hiwi, Customer Manager in New Zealand Trade & Enterprise's Maori Business Team, says global consumers are demanding the highest standards of food safety throughout the supply chain.
“We also know the risk we run if the consumer loses trust in our ability to control the safety of their food. To earn more from the food we export, solutions like ApiTrak will help attract the premium price from consumers willing to buy the intangible attributes like food safety, country of origin labelling, and traceability.”
Hayden, who has been involved in the Manuka honey industry since the early 2000s, founded the Honey Network honey auction site, and is a member of the Maori Honey Working Group. The cloud-based ApiTrak platform makes food safety compliance easy and significantly cuts down on paperwork for apiarists, processing facilities and marketing companies. The ApiTrak system has potential applications beyond the honey industry to a range of other food producers.
Consumers worldwide are increasingly seeking assurances that everything they eat is safe and can be reliably traced back to its point of origin.
Victor Goldsmith, General Manager of Ngati Porou Miere Limited Partnership, who also serves on ApiTrak's advisory board, said the partnership owned 1000 hives on its own land blocks and would continue to increase the numbers.
“We need to give our customers assurance that what they are buying is authentic and we will be able to demonstrate this with ApiTrak.
“As we grow the business to include extraction processing and bottling, we will be one of the only honey businesses that is truly integrated from the land right through to the brand. ApiTrak will be vital to our growth.”