How Much UMF™ Is Enough?


5 Minute Read

Essential Takeaways

UMF™ stands for Unique Manuka Factor and the trademark was created in 1998 by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) to protect genuine manuka honey from New Zealand.

This honey has been researched for decades for its uniquely powerful antibacterial properties. The UMF™ grading system was developed in order to detect, verify, and rate this manuka honey.

Only pure, raw, monofloral manuka honey that was both produced and packaged in New Zealand can earn a UMF™ grade.

The higher the UMF™ grade, the more antibacterial properties the batch of manuka honey has. And this helps consumers to decide what grade they need based on their use.

In the world of manuka honey, UMF™ is kind of a big deal.

Honey is one of the most faked foods on the planet.

With its famed health properties and higher price point, New Zealand manuka honey and its honey producers specifically needed protection.

And so, the UMF™ trademark was born. 

So what’s the difference between UMF™ 5+ and UMF™ 28+? Does everyone need the highest grade?

That’s what we’ll explore here.

In this guide to choosing your UMF™, we’ll cover:

Let’s get down to business.

What Is The UMF™ Grading System And Why Does It Matter?

For a number of years now, the numbers just haven’t added up.

In recent years, more manuka honey has been sold in some countries than was recorded to have been produced worldwide.

How is that possible?

Well, it isn’t.

Evidently, there are a lot of fakes on the market.

With the rise in popularity, demand, and the higher price-point of manuka honey, protection was needed for both consumers and authentic suppliers.

So in 1998, the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) produced the UMF™ trademark to verify the strictest and highest graded manuka honey.

“The UMF Honey Association has a world-leading science programme that is focussed on identifying the unique signature compounds of genuine Mānuka Honey, as a way of safeguarding consumers and the industry.”

Read more: UMF™ honey and the UMFHA.

UMF™ stands for Unique Manuka Factor.

This refers to the concentration of specific compounds found in genuine manuka honey.

Much research has been done, and still continues today, into the impacts of different concentrations of these compounds in different contexts.

The ultimate question is, what a higher or lower UMF™ could mean for our health.

So let’s delve into what the numbers mean.



What the UMF™ Gradings Mean to Manuka Honey

For manuka honey to receive a UMF™ grade, it needs to have met certain standards.

Only a pure, raw, monofloral manuka honey from New Zealand can receive a UMF™ grade. The producer also needs to be licensed by the UMFHA, which comes with its own standards and regulations.

Manuka honey is tested independently for four chemical markers that indicate different quality traits.

They are: methylglyoxal (MGO), leptosperin, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), and hydroxymethylfurfal (HMF).

Let’s take a closer look.

Methylglyoxal (MGO)

MGO is the compound associated with the antibacterial properties in manuka honey.

Whilst regular honeys sometimes contain MGO, manuka honey can have up to 100 times more. Higher UMF™ grades contain more MGO.

MGO content helps to verify the potency of the manuka honey.

And you’ll see the MGO content alongside the UMF™ grade when you buy authentic manuka honey.

Read more: What Does MGO Mean on Manuka Honey?


The Latin binomial name of the mānuka plant is Leptospermum scoparium.

Leptosperin is a compound only found in honey made with mānuka nectar, so this helps to verify the authenticity of manuka honey.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Manuka honey contains uniquely high levels of DHA.

DHA slowly converts to MGO over its lifetime. The more DHA in a batch of manuka honey, the fresher the honey is expected to be.

So DHA is an indicator of the freshness as well as the authenticity of manuka honey.

Hydroxymethylfurfal (HMF)

This compound indicates whether manuka honey has been stored for too long or above the average temperature of the hive.

High temperatures can kill the natural enzymes and beneficial compounds found in manuka honey, so HMF helps to verify its freshness and potency.

Manuka honey is tested in independent labs for these chemical markers and assigned a UMF™ grade accordingly.

The grades help consumers to decide which is right for them based on exactly what’s inside the jar.

These are the levels of each trait required for the most common UMF™ ratings:

Source: UMFHA.

So we know that higher grades have more potent antibacterial effects, but what does this mean in a practical sense?

Can this liquid gold still work just as well at UMF™ 5+ as 26+?

Which UMF™ And MGO Rating Is Right For You?

According to studies:

The possible health benefits of manuka honey will be more potent, concentrated and potentially more effective, the higher the UMF™ grade.

UMF™ 26+ | MGO 1282+ or higher will give you the best chance at great results, whatever you’re using it for.

But like all the best things, top quality manuka honey can only be harvested in smal quantities, making it more expensive and not suitable for every budget.

Here are our recommendations for the best uses of each UMF™ grade of manuka honey.


Whilst manuka honey is a natural product, it’s always best to check with a doctor before using it for medical complaints, particularly with children or if you have allergies to pollen.



Rating Typical consumer Typical uses Ideas & Information

At the start of the spectrum, UMF™ 5+ is great for daily or regular consumption for both children and adults.

A natural energy boost, it has a relatively mild flavor, so is easy to add to other foods for a little extra sweetness.

Next up on the spectrum, UMF™ 10+ is also great for teens and the family to eat on a regular basis.

These could be used with spreads, in drinks, baked goods or for breakfast.

UMF™ 15+ offers a little extra MGO kick for mixing into foods, making your own wellness masks at home, simply consuming from the spoon, or adding it to your morning rituals. This is our most popular grading, loved by families and young adults.

With a little more MGO, they will also be beneficial for topical applications on the skin, though you may want a higher concentration for acne or wounds.

The start of the premium grades, UMF™ 20+ is the first step up for people wanting to do more with Manuka than just eat it. This is popular with mums, young professionals and people with acne, scars, and wounds.

Whether you want a strong dietary supplement or milder support agent, UMF™ 20+ is a very good option.

Getting into the more potent gradings, UMF™ 24+ is almost the strongest on the market and gives you a big boost of MGO. It’s commonly applied externally, but you can still eat it from the jar if you like! The higher price point of this means it’s popular with people especially seeking out health benefits from honey.

Delicious in food but potentially more effective as an antibacterial agent, this is a good complementary acne, wound, or scar support ingredient.

UMF™ 26+ is our highest grade. It will give you the highest potency of MGO, hence this one is great for medicinal uses and preventative health.

This is our best manuka honey for antibacterial activity, making it ideally suited to medicinal uses - but only with the permission of your doctor. Being the most pure, it is also used in many religious practices. It really is for eating from the spoon, savouring, storing, gifting, or collecting.


Get Top Quality UMF™ Manuka Honey from New Zealand Honey Co.

So, what’s the bottom line?

If you buy New Zealand Honey Co. manuka honey, you’ll be getting genuine, raw manuka honey, in all its golden sweetness. Tested and certified.

But don’t take our word for it, see what our customers think:

“I got it to see how it would help with my gut and stomach issues. It had been fantastic! I am very pleased with this product and will be continuing to use it for the health benefits.”

“It is a blessing in a spoonful. Wellness in a jar. Thank you.”

“I’ve tried numerous brands of manuka honey and yours is by far the best tasting and most consistent.”

Shop the range.

Still unsure which grade is right for you?

Try our fun and simple quiz.

Your wellness journey starts with a spoonful a day.


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