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New Honey Markets
Honey as a Health Food to Fight Gut Infections

There is emerging evidence that honey can help shape the microbial communities of the gut and promote healthy gut function. Gut microbial imbalance causes gut disease and has also been linked to cancer, obesity and mental health issues. Foods that can stimulate the growth and function of beneficial microbes, known as prebiotics, are therefore gaining significant interest. Although honey can be antimicrobial it affects some bacterial species much more than others. Prebiotic honey appears to reduce harmful species, for example Clostridia, while promoting the growth of helpful species such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. This appears to be partially but not entirely due to complex sugars (oligosaccharides), and other bioactive molecules in honey may contribute to this activity.


Honey is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Many prevalent gut-linked diseases, such as colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, are known to be exacerbated by inflammation of the bowels. Honey is therefore uniquely able to both help clear infection and prevent inflammatory disease damage.

Our aim is to value-add to NSW honey as a functional food with prebiotic properties.

Find out more at the UTS ithree Institute website below:


There are currently two prebiotic honeys on the market: “Beeotic Prebiotic Honey” and “OliK8”. These command increased prices but they are proprietary and there is little scientific literature and no published studies in animals or humans to back their claims. Preliminary data from our studies suggest many honey types have prebiotic potential, including those produced in high volumes in NSW such as yellow box and spotted gum. There is capacity in the market for their inclusion, representing a significant opportunity for NSW honey.


Dr. Nural Cokcetin says that while honey is dietarily beneficial "If you’re putting [it] in your hair you’re probably just making a sticky mess." CREDIT:THE CONVERSATION, SHUTTERSTOCK


  1. A strong evidence base to promote honey as a prebiotic.

  2. Increased visibility of NSW honeys as a healthy functional food with subsequent increases in sales and profitability across the supply chain.

  3. Value-adding to honey translating to increased income for beekeepers and throughout the supply chain, resulting in improved job security and workforce retention.

  4. New markets nationally and internationally for NSW honey in food and healthcare, and promotion of the brand.

  5. Improved consumer access to prebiotic honey and its associated health benefits



To be conducted at the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney. The proposed project will complement prior work using models where food type and intake can be controlled to create data on the overall effect of honey on the gut microbiome. 

  1. Investigation of the prebiotic effects of NSW honeys from dominant floral sources and their potential for treating gut-related disease in mouse models.

  2. Investigation of the effect of honey consumption on inflammation of the bowel.

  3. Identification of components in honey that can be used as biomarkers to assess the prebiotic potential of honey samples.

  4. Establishing whether Clostridium  can be successfully treated by consuming prebiotic honey.

  5. Comparison with data from human trials to assess whether selected NSW prebiotic honeys promote gut health

Measurable Outputs:

  • New prebiotic NSW honey products for marketing and commercialization as a highvalue commodity.

  • A general up-lift of the NSW honey brand as a healthy food, with an increase in value across the brand.

  • Validated biomarkers and methods for testing the prebiotic potential of honey samples.

  • Scientific data published in reports for the Apiary Industry and associated government bodies, brochures and websites for consumers, and open-access scientific journals for the scientific community.

  • A series of workshops bringing together beekeepers, industry bodies, government and researchers around specific industry challenges and opportunities.

  • Key messages to take to market around the health benefits of NSW honey.

  • Public seminars to raise awareness about the quality of NSW honey

This project will provide a strong evidence base for the NSW Apiary Industry to market honey as a health food with prebiotic properties. It will enable the industry to add significant value to existing products and will grow the industry in the highly profitable health food space. With flow-on effects to income across the sector, this will strengthen bee keeping and related jobs and improve market security.


Eucalyptus melliodora, or yellow box gum, yields honeys that are known to have beneficial properties. CREDIT: QLD NATIVE SEEDS

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