What does UMF mean?
UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. It is the standardised grading measurement of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA).
Why was the UMFHA established?
UMFHA is an independent body found only in New Zealand that was founded in 1998 to identify and differentiate the unique properties of Manuka Honey. Its goal is to protect New Zealand’s Manuka honey industry and it’s consumers. UMF is the most widely recognised standard globally and the only association that actively tests its member's honey to ensure what is being sold is as labelled. They also fund scientific research and continue to add to the knowledge around Manuka honey.
Do New Zealand Honey Companies have to be registered with the UMFHA to use the UMF trademark?
Yes, all New Zealand honey companies who want to display the UMF trademark on their honey products must be registered with the UMFHA as a registered licence-holder. All member's licences can be found on the UMFHA website. To view the New Zealand Honey Co. licence, click here.
UMF grading system
The UMF grading system recognises natural markers found in Manuka honey and provides assurance around the purity and quality. The system consists of two key components which are required to be displayed on the label of UMF grade Manuka Honey. These components also indicate that the product is genuine New Zealand Manuka Honey.
- Label clearly stating that the product in the jar is 100% Manuka Honey.
- UMF Icon and grading number which represent the unique signature compounds found in Manuka Honey.
Only the UMF grading system identifies the three signature compounds found in Manuka Honey, which are Leptosperin, DHA and Methylglyoxal (MGO). All three compounds must be present, not just one in isolation. Together they indicate authentic, high-quality Manuka Honey. The higher the UMF number, the higher the levels of activity in the honey. HMF (Hydroxymethylfurfural) is also included in the test to ensure the honey has not been modified to increase the MGO rating.
How is UMF honey tested?
UMF grade Manuka Honey is independently tested and certified by independent laboratories.
Every batch of our New Zealand Honey Co. Manuka Honey is tested by Analytica Laboratories, New Zealand’s leading analytical chemistry laboratory, specialising in food and environmental testing. You can visit their website here. Analytica Laboratories conduct MPI testing to identify if the honey is a monofloral or multi-floral Manuka Honey. MPI (NZ Ministry of Primary Industries) is a New Zealand government organisation that has established basic testing requirements for a honey to be classified as a Manuka Honey.
In addition to the MPI tests, UMF members conduct additional testing for UMF grading. Analytica Laboratories refer to this as the 3-in-1 test.
The components of the test results are:
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) - a precursor to MGO
- Methylglyoxal Oxidase (MG/MGO) - Chemical that gives Manuka its unique antibacterial properties
- Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) - a by-product of the conversion of DHA to MGO and the degradation of MGO. High levels are not favourable.
It also includes testing of the NPA levels:
- Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA) - calculated from the concentration of MGO and corresponds with the UMF equivalent grade of honey eg. 5+, 10+, 15+
What do UMF numbers mean?
The higher the UMF grade, eg. UMF 20+ or UMF 24+ the greater the unique Manuka Honey attributes and the higher the antibacterial markers. The number includes the key markers of Leptosperin, DHA and Methylglyoxal (MGO). As previously noted these three elements; Leptosperin, DHA and Methylglyoxal must all be present, not just one in isolation.
Why does New Zealand Honey Co. use UMF?
We are a member of the UMFHA because their values align with ours, they maintain industry-leading standards and the UMF trademark gives consumers confidence when purchasing genuine Manuka honey. The UMFHA has a world-leading science program that is focused on identifying the unique signature compounds that genuine Manuka honey possesses. This, in turn, protects consumers and the industry.
The UMFHA is the only organisation that currently controls the quality of Manuka honey for both export and domestic sales through its off-the-shelf testing program. This is a requirement for all members of the UMFHA. It means UMF Manuka Honey is randomly tested from shelves all around the world giving you confidence that the honey that reaches your table has not been adulterated and that it has the activity levels as stated on the label.
What is the Official UMF Release Certificate?
The Official UMF Release Certificate is a controlled document that is issued to UMF-labelled Manuka honey, which passes all test criteria. All UMF registered licence holders should be able to provide this document to their consumers and if they do not, you as a consumer can request it.
The name UMF applies to honey packed in jars and labelled in New Zealand.