Bega Cheese has confirmed the purchase of 255,291 shares in Capilano Honey for $5.38 million, taking its stake in the company to 5.76 per cent.
Bega’s purchase should make it the second largest shareholder in Capilano, which last month received a bid from Australian-Chinese private equity fund Wattle Hill.
Capilano shares rose 0.24 per cent in the first 15 minutes of trade on Monday despite controversy about the quality of their Allowrie-branded Mixed Blossom Honey.
This morning Capilano defended the product following reports by the ABC and Fairfax Media that the honey was mixed with other substances.
A Nuclear Magnetic Resolution (NMR) test found that almost half the honey samples selected from supermarket shelves were mixed with something other than nectar from bees.
Twenty-eight blended and imported honey samples were tested from stores including Coles, Woolworths, ALDI and IGA.
Phil McCabe, president of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association told 7.30 that the NMR test is the most accurate available and thinks consumers are not getting what they paid for.
“Adulterated honey isn’t honey at all,” McCabe said.
“Everything about it seems to be honey, when in fact it’s just sugar syrup or something else.”
Capilano managing director Ben McKee criticised the method of honey testing commissioned saying the results differed from official Australian testing.
McKee said that NMR relied on a database of reference honeys in which honeys local to Australia were under represented.
“NMR tests are conducted at European laboratories and the method’s essential flaw is the reliance on a database of reference honeys, and the database is underrepresented for honeys from our region.”
“We stand by our Allowrie honey as being 100% pure honey and the testing we employ on every batch. However customers have a choice and there are great quality 100% pure Australian honey products on the market such as our Capilano brand, supplied by over 600 Australian beekeeping families,” McKee said.