5 Minute Read
- UMF™ is a trademark created by the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) with the purpose of certifying and grading genuine New Zealand manuka honey to reduce the circulation of counterfeit honey.
- The UMF™ gradings vary from 5+ to 26+, and are often used for different purposes (e.g. eating from the spoon, smearing it on your face, or treating wounds and scars).
- Not all New Zealand manuka honey has to be UMF™ graded, as beekeepers can choose whether or not to be a member of the UMFHA. But if your manuka honey is UMF™ graded, you can be sure you’re getting the real deal.
In the world of manuka honey, UMF™ is kind of a big deal.
Manuka honey has intrigued scientists and the public alike for quite some time.
Its scarcity and famed properties have made it a sought-after commodity, one sometimes associated with luxury and wellness.
With rising demand and its higher price-point, fakes inevitably started seeping through the woodwork. There soon became a great need for a grading system to determine the friends from the foes.
Hence, the UMF trademark was born.
But does everyone need the top-rated option? Is there any value in the lower UMF™ gradings? We’re about to dive deep into that.
In this guide to choosing your UMF™, we’ll cover:
- What determines a UMF™ rating?
- Choosing the right one for you
- Making sure whichever you pick is the real deal
Let’s get down to business.
What Is UMF™ And Why Does It Matter?
For a number of years now, the numbers just haven’t added up.
It has been reported in media outlets across the world that more manuka honey has been sold in some countries than was recorded to have been produced by manufacturers.
How is that possible?
Well, it isn’t. And it can only mean one thing.
With the rise in popularity, demand, and price-point of manuka honey, protection was needed. This was for both sides: the customers wanting genuine honey, and for the manufacturers playing by the rules.
So that’s what the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) did in 1998.
They produced the UMF trademark.
“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 in different contexts.
The ultimate question is, what a higher or lower UMF™ could mean for our health.
In order to figure out which UMF™ grading is right for you and your purpose, let’s briefly cover what goes into the final number.
What the UMF™ gradings mean
For a product to be able to include a UMF™ rating, it needs to have met certain standards.
It must have been produced and packed in New Zealand, and by a company licensed by the UMFHA - which comes with its own standards and regulations.
Products are tested in labs to ensure this is the case, and ratings are assigned based on the levels of two key indicators - Methylglyoxal (MGO) and Leptosperin - although other chemical markets are also tested for.
These are the levels required for each UMF™ rating:
The MGO level is associated with the antibacterial potency of the manuka honey. This is what has made manuka honey famous and coveted across the world.
But how does the lower MGO level compare with the higher, in a practical sense?
Can this liquid gold still work just as well at UMF™ 5+ as 26+?
Which UMF™ Is Right For You?
The possible health benefits of manuka honey will be more potent, concentrated and potentially more effective, the higher the UMF™ grading is.
UMF™ 26+ 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 comes in smaller quantities, making it more expensive. It won’t suit every budget.
So let’s take a tour of the gradings, and where they best fit by purpose.
|Rating||Typical consumer||Typical uses||Ideas & Information|
|UMF™ 5+||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.|
|UMF™ 10+||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+||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.|
|UMF™ 20+||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.||
|UMF™ 24+||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+||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.||
Whilst manuka honey is a natural product, please do not use it for medicinal purposes without consulting your doctor.
Honey, Just Be Sure It’s The Real Deal
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, certified - check.
The UMF™ grading simply reflects how strong its potential antibacterial properties are, and how effective it could be for your chosen purpose.
Either way, you’ll be getting the good stuff.
Find out more about the independent testing, and see our certifications, here.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Recieve our latest weekly releases, offers, guides and more.