ASX listed food company, Bega Cheese, has launched a range of pure Australian honey products in Coles Supermarkets branded Bhoney.
Sourced exclusively from Australian beekeepers, the honey has a distinctive purple themed packaging.
And the launch has been supported with an innovative demonstration of new technology that could provide early warning of Varroa mite infestation.
Australia is the last continent in the world to be free of the destructive varroa mite, after New Zealand became infested at the turn of the century.
However in the age of globalization, Australia too, will likely become infested at some stage, forcing local beekeepers to adopt chemical treatments to protect their beehives as they do overseas.
Bega’s Purple Hive Project however, has shown how a tiny camera, controlled by a locally developed artificial intelligence program, can be used to monitor a hive for varroa mite.
With an inbuilt transmitter, the device can notify any detection in real time.
And with a network of hives equipped with the device around Australia, the Purple Hive Project could provide a nationwide Varroa mite early warning system.
As soon as an infected hive is detected, it could be quarantined, and all hives in the immediate area examined to find the source.
At this stage the national hive network is simply an aspiration, and it remains to be seen whether the company will actually follow through.
But whether or not it does, the Purple Hive Project will give Australian beekeepers confidence that Bega Cheese is genuinely interested in the hlocal honey industry, and not simply cashing in on a market opportunity.
Certainly, the Australian retail honey market has been dominated for years by Brisbane based Capilano.
Even before the company was taken over by a consortium of merchant banks and re-badged as Hive and Wellness, Capilano’s marketing and procurement practices had besmirched its reputation in sections of the Australian community.
So competition from someone who demonstrates a genuine commitment to Australian product, instead of imports, will likely be well-received.
For more information go www.purplehiveproject.com.au