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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Stannett

Hill Labs’ Honey Testing Journey: Advancing Quality and Innovation


This year Hill Labs celebrates 40 years at the forefront of laboratory testing across a range of industries. Meghan Stannett, market sector manager for food and bioanalytical, details the honey testing journey of the proudly Kiwi-owned Hill Labs and how they are continuing to invest in helping New Zealand honey producers remain world leaders.

Hill Labs honey testing journey began in 2006 and has since seen them pioneer a test for MGO, as well as develop a test for mānuka honey markers.

Here at Hill Labs we are proud to be celebrating our 40th anniversary, a big milestone that highlights the enduring impact of our founders, Dr. Roger and Anne Hill. We are New Zealand's largest privately owned analytical laboratory, offering services in agriculture, environment, and food and bioanalytical sectors. Dr. Jonno Hill, the current Managing Director, joined the family business after completing his PhD, and he attributes the success to the values and culture his parents instilled. He is committed to preserving these values, seeing them as crucial for the company's strategic direction and competitive edge.

Our honey journey began back in mid-2006, with testing for para-dichlorobenzene (pDCB), a moth treatment for beehives. But that was just the start. In 2008, we made waves in the Mānuka honey industry. Collaborating with Professor Manley-Harris and her team at the University of Waikato, we pioneered a chemical test for Methylglyoxal (MGO), a vital antibacterial component in Mānuka honey. This world-first innovation drastically cut down testing time, providing quicker and more reliable results compared to the old microbiological methods. It set the standard for producers to certify their honey's quality efficiently and accurately, benefiting the entire industry.

As the industry evolved, so did we. When MPI introduced the scientific definition to authenticate New Zealand mānuka honey, we sprang into action. MPI tasked us with developing an analytical test method for "Mānuka Markers," and our scientists tackled the challenge head-on, completing it within a couple of months, even over the Christmas period.

Our commitment remained strong. With a team deeply experienced in both testing and all things honey, we revamped our operations, investing in new technology and automating lab processes to increase testing throughput. This not only satisfied our growing client base but also upheld our reputation for excellence in service delivery. Our team's culture, fuelled by our company values, played a significant role in our success. They're not just high-performing; they're a bunch of great people who love what they do and put the client's needs first.

Hill Labs have a client-focused approach and it shows, with 99% of honey testing they are tasked with reported within their stated turnaround times.

Our team is always innovating, constantly seeking ways to improve. By integrating new technologies and enhancing operational efficiency, we now offer industry leading, next-day turnaround times for the majority of our high-volume tests, including 3-in-1 Honey Suite, Mānuka 5 Attributes, Glyphosate, Tutin, American Foulbrood (AFB) and Leptosperin. With 99% of our honey jobs reported within our stated turnaround times over the past year, we have proven that we can deliver on our service commitments.

What's next? We continue to invest in new technologies and methodologies, staying ahead of future challenges and opportunities. By maintaining a client-focused approach and investing in both people and technology, we are well-positioned to support the honey industry’s sustained success, ensuring it remains at the forefront of quality on the global stage.



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