Increasing the value of Australian honey as a health food

University of Technology, Sydney

  • Project code: PRJ-010879

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Sunday, July 1, 2018

  • Project completion date: Sunday, April 3, 2022

  • Journal Articles From Project: The potential of honey as a prebiotic food to re-engineer the gut microbiome toward a healthy state Frontiers in Nutrition (Issue: doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.957932 on 28/7/2022)

  • National Priority: HBE-Improve understanding of the benefits of honey and develop chain traceability


We have preliminary findings showing that some Australian eucalypt honeys have a positive impact on human gut health. Gut microbes are now recognised as playing a crucial role in health and disease. It is estimated that half of all Australians will complain of a digestive issue in the next 12 months. An ‘unhealthy’ gut (disrupted balance of gut microbes) has been linked to obesity, allergies, asthma, heart conditions, and mental health issues. Therefore, manipulating the balance of our microbes by consuming prebiotic foods to promote a ‘healthy’ gut is gaining significant interest in health, scientific and medical spheres. We have already shown that Australian eucalypt honeys have significant promise as a prebiotic, which led to the development and commercialisation of a world-first prebiotic honey product. However, the honey industry has not come close to exploiting all of the potential here. This project will provide high quality scientific evidence for the health benefits of Australian honeys – natural, safe and affordable products – to promote or restore a healthy gut. This will be done using clinical samples from patients with gut-related complaints for in vitro investigations, followed by a pilot clinical study. Honeys with scientifically proven benefits attract higher prices, as evidenced by NZ medicinal manuka honey. This has had flow-on price benefits for all NZ honeys, which are regarded as premium, healthy and high quality products internationally. Proving the benefits of Australian eucalypt-derived honeys would further increase their profile and value, and generate a unique marketing opportunity for Australian honeys.


Honey Bee

Research Organisation

University of Technology, Sydney

Objective Summary

The overall aim of this work is to provide a rigorous evidence base for the value of Australian honey as a prebiotic food that can promote digestive health. The outcomes will be to increase the value, use and acceptance of our honey as a health product.
The specific R&D objectives are:
1. To investigate the prebiotic effects of Australian honeys from dominant floral sources and their potential for treating gut-related diseases in a laboratory gut model. We will identify the diseases most responsive to honey treatments, and honeys with the highest prebiotic activity based on composition and function of the microbes in the system. This will extend the current knowledge of the spectrum of prebiotic activity of honey, help to increase the value of our non-premium honeys, and may promote the use of honey as a treatment for conditions related to having a compromised balance of gut microbes.
2. To perform a pilot human clinical study investigating the effect of daily honey consumption on the composition of gut microbes in patients suffering with gut-related conditions. This will determine whether the laboratory results are translatable, and will increase the acceptance of honey as an effective prebiotic. There may also be commercialisation potential for a new prebiotic honey product as a treatment for gut-related diseases, complementing the prophylactic product (for healthy people) currently on the market. The overall reputation, profile and price of Australian honey as a natural product for health care and medicine will also be enhanced.