What to look for when purchasing Manuka Honey


5 minutes

Essential Takeaways

When buying genuine manuka honey, it’s best to look for a UMF™ grade. This is a quality marker, certifying that your jar of honey is fresh monofloral manuka honey from New Zealand - the kind that has garnered worldwide attention for its unique health benefits.

Thanks to this global reputation for health and wellness, manuka honey is a hot commodity. So there are lots of fakes on the market.

Whilst there are other manuka honey ratings you can look for (like MGO, MGS, and NPA), nothing is as thorough as a UMF™ grade.

Manuka honey has a global reputation for its unique antibacterial activity.

Thanks to this reputation, and its higher price tag, there are plenty of imposters on the market.

Fortunately, it’s easy to verify the real deal when you know how. It’s all about the label.

So if you’re wondering what to look for in manuka honey to get the best possible product, you’re in the right place.

In this guide to buying authentic manuka honey:

  • Why you need to know what to look for in manuka honey

  • What to look for on manuka honey labels

  • Other manuka honey labels

  • What to look for in manuka honey brands

  • Get your genuine manuka honey here

Why You Need to Know What to Look for in Manuka Honey

Monofloral manuka honey from New Zealand has been tested for decades for its unique antibacterial properties.

This honey comes exclusively from manuka nectar, made and packaged specifically in New Zealand.

With its global reputation for health and wellness, and limited supply, this type of honey is typically more expensive than others. And as a result, it needs greater protection against fraud.

After all, honey is one of the most faked foods in the world.

So there is a grading system specifically designed to test for monofloral manuka honey from New Zealand.

And there are grading systems and chemical markers used on labels that don’t tell you this information, aswell.

If you’re looking for the real deal, you need to know the difference.



What to Look for on Manuka Honey Labels

When buying genuine manuka honey, it’s best to look for a UMF™ label.

This label signifies that a jar of manuka honey has undergone the most rigorous independent testing available to prove its authenticity.

A jar of manuka honey with a UMF™ grade is fresh, raw, monofloral manuka honey from New Zealand. No other manuka honey rating, number, or grade verifies the same level of detail.

Developed by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA), the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF™) testing looks for four characteristics in a batch of honey:

  1. Methylglyoxal (MGO) content: MGO is the chemical marker associated with the high antibacterial activity in manuka honey.

  2. Leptosperin content: The Latin binomial name for the manuka plant is Leptospermum scoparium. So the presence of the chemical leptosperin indicates the honey is from manuka plants.

  3. Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) content: DHA is slowly converted to MGO, naturally, over time. The more DHA in a batch of honey, the longer it will last.

  4. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HFA) content: This is used to ensure that honey hasn’t been overheated (and lost its beneficial properties) or stored too long. It’s a measure of freshness.

No other manuka honey test, number, or grading system is as thorough as UMF™.

You’ll notice that different jars of manuka honey will have different UMF™ numbers, or grades.

This is all to do with its MGO content - that antibacterial component that makes manuka honey special.

The higher the UMF™ grade, the higher the MGO content. So lower grades are generally great for everyday health and wellness, and higher grades for more targeted medical use.

Learn more about UMF™ labels and the UMFHA.

Learn more about UMF™ grades and choosing the one for you.


Other Manuka Honey Labels

There are a number of other manuka honey ratings which we discuss in more depth in our dedicated guide.

So here’s a quick overview of what they are and why they aren’t as informative as UMF™:

  • K-Factor™: This grading system was developed and used by a single honey producer. It verifies that honey is non-GMO, raw, and glyphosate free. But it doesn’t test freshness, or that a manuka honey is monofloral (not diluted with other nectar).

  • MGO: The methylglyoxal content is sometimes included on labels on its own. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, you don’t get the same kind of assurance of the freshness and monofloral nature of the honey as you do with UMF™ grades.

  • MGS: The Molan Gold Standard (MGS) system tests for genuine manuka honey from New Zealand primarily based on MGO content. It’s relatively limited compared to UMF™ testing and not as widely used.

  • NPA: Non-peroxide activity (NPA) is a chemical marker, similar to MGO. Studies have shown that higher antibacterial activity is linked to NPA, so this is another way of verifying the same benefits in a batch of honey.

As you can see, whilst there’s nothing wrong with these ratings, they only tell half the story.

Looking for a UMF™ grade when you’re buying manuka honey ensures that you get the best possible product.

Learn more about these ratings and how they compare.


What to Look for with Manuka Honey Brands

As you can see, proving authenticity is a fundamental aspect of the manuka honey industry.

And genuine producers must work extra hard to prove themselves.

That’s why one of our core values is transparency.

We are committed to making our processes, beliefs, partners, and accreditations as clear and accessible as possible.

So, when looking for manuka honey, make sure the brand:

  • Has their manuka honey graded using the UMF™ system.

  • Makes it easy to find their accreditations and explains them clearly.

  • Discloses how they produce their honey and that it’s packaged within NZ.

  • Demonstrates its commitment to health and the environment in other ways, e.g. through non-GMO or pesticide certifications and using sustainable packaging.

We commit to all these things and more.

See our accreditations here.

Get Your Authentic Manuka Honey Right Here

Good news!

Your search to find the best, most authentic manuka honey can finally come to an end.

You’ve found it.

We partner with only the most responsible beekeepers throughout New Zealand who work tirelessly and sustainably to produce our manuka honey.

As well as producing non-GMO, pesticide-free, raw, fresh, monofloral manuka honey, we’re also Halal and Kosher certified, and dairy, gluten, and additive free.

With New Zealand Honey Co., you can trust that you’re getting the cleanest, most natural product.

Shop our raw manuka honey.

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