For 45 years we’ve been perfecting our beekeeping craft, sourcing Manuka Honey from the remote hills and pristine forests of New Zealand. We’re thrilled that nutritionists, health practitioners, and natural wellness experts across the US are now discovering the power of this pure, precious resource.
To keep up with increasing consumer demand, many Manuka Honey brands are now in natural food stores and upscale supermarkets across the country. Some of these are labeled with terms like “Bio-Active”, “Active”, or “Factor”, with numbers ranging from 5 to 500.
With so many different grading systems and distinctions, you probably find yourself wondering, is there honestly a difference? And how would you even know?
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: yeah, there is –– and it’s a big one!
Until recently, there was no single standard for what constitutes Real Manuka Honey (even then, some still claim authenticity even though no one has tested or verified what’s in the jar). So, in an effort to clear up the confusion surrounding Manuka Honey, we wanted to provide you with a simple guide of how to tell the difference between verifiable quality and marketing hype.
So what is “Real” Manuka Honey, exactly? Here are a few things to look out for to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth:
- Comes from New Zealand, just like real champagne comes from France. New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) set new standards for what can be exported to the United States as “Manuka Honey” after August 2018.
- Is labeled as Monofloral (predominantly from the Manuka flower, ensuring its unique properties), or "Multifloral" (a blend of Manuka and other New Zealand wildflowers), both types with a clearly labeled MGO level.
- Has the UMF™ independent certification, guaranteeing specific levels of Manuka’s three key compounds.
- Comes from real beekeepers. Choose a company with their own beekeeping operation, that is a responsible steward to the planet and its people. Manuka Honey is one of the Earth’s most rare and precious natural resources. Both the Manuka Flower and honey bees are incredibly sensitive to changing climate, so it matters that Manuka Honey is harvested sustainably and regeneratively. It also matters that it comes from equitable partnerships with beekeepers and New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people, who have valued the benefits of the Manuka flower for centuries.
Different Manuka Honey brands use different rating systems, which makes things confusing when you’re trying to compare options. Something rated as a “Factor” of 16 or “Bio-Active” of 24 sounds like it would be superior to a UMF™ 15+, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. We even lab tested a few popular brands to be sure, and the results weren’t what you’d expect, especially when paying $30, $40 or $50 for a jar. Here’s what you need to know about Manuka Honey rating systems:
Gold Standard: UMF™
UMF™ (Unique Manuka Factor) is 3rd party certified, guaranteeing that products carrying the UMF mark contain a minimum level all three of the key compounds, and ensure that its genuine, monofloral Manuka Honey (Leptosperin, DHA, and MGO). UMF™ was developed by a trade group of scientists and consumer protection advocates (UMFHA) to ensure quality and purity standards.
Silver Standard: MGO
Short for Methylglyoxal, MGO is one of the three key chemical markers as measured by UMFHA of Manuka Honey. As Dr. James Gawenis, the scientist who contributed to a recent Good Morning America investigation of Manuka Honey said: “If it doesn’t have the MGO levels then you may as well buy sweet clover honey for less than a tenth of the price you’re paying for Manuka Honey.” While MGO is a very important marker for Manuka’s non-peroxide activity, on its own does not ensure the full potency UMF™ monofloral Manuka Honey offers.
Lacking Standard: almost anything else!
Logically, it would seem that a Manuka Honey labeled with numbers like 12, 16, or 24+ would possess higher bioactivity than a UMF™ 5, 10, or 15+, right? Those words, numbers, and symbols were created by marketers to sound meaningful, though they don’t adhere to any independent standard. The truth is, they may or may not offer detectable levels of the unique compounds that constitute Real Manuka Honey
We're the world's trusted leader in Manuka Honey, and our aim is to help you understand it better to make your best informed choices and enjoy the benefits of Real Manuka Honey for yourself. Join us on Instagram at @comvita_sg or at Facebook.com/comvitaSGP, and DM us to learn more.