Manuka Honey Grades – What Do They Mean?

Once someone decides to buy Manuka honey, they must learn more about the various grades. The grade can tell the customer more about the strength of the honey and how pure it is. All customers should use the grade to ensure that they’re getting the right variety of Manuka honey.

In this guide, readers will learn more about the various Manuka honey grades.


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New Zealand Manuka honey is unpasteurized and minimally processed which means the honey delivered to you is raw and untouched.


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What Are The Various Manuka Honey Grades?

When you begin looking at the various brands of Manuka honey, you’ll find that each brand has several offerings. Each product will have a specific rating. Some are labeled with a UMF rating while others will have an MGO rating.

There are other ratings as well, including a K-factor rating and a TA rating. Usually, the UMF rating is the most important. Nevertheless, it would be unwise to ignore the MGO, TA, and K-factor ratings.

Learning more about these grades can make it much easier to get the perfect product for your unique needs.

Understanding The Various Grades

Again, there are various grades of Manuka honey. Each is unique. In most cases, a Manuka honey product will have an MGO rating, a UMF rating, and a TA rating.

The K-factor rating is only applicable to one brand. Some brands are not forthcoming with their grades so you may need to ask. Regardless, they’ll be explored in greater depth below.

What Is The UMF Grade?

UMF is the primary grade for Manuka honey products. It is managed by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association. The agency protects the industry by ensuring that counterfeit honey can’t reach customers.

When a Manuka honey is UMF graded, it means that it was tested for five characteristics. The tests will also confirm whether you’re dealing with multi-floral or monofloral honey.

While UMF and MGO are sometimes used interchangeably, they’re significantly different. It is common for companies to display MGO ratings on their bottles even though the product hasn’t been UMF graded.

UMF and MGO require separate tests. The UMF is the Unique Manuka Factor of the honey.

When you see the UMF marker on a bottle of honey, you can rest assured knowing that the product contains manuka plant compounds and that they were from New Zealand.

The grade can help determine the strength of the product.

What Is An MGO Grade?


When you read the description of any Manuka honey product, you should be able to find the MGO rating. The rating tells the customer what the methylglyoxal content in the honey is.

It also indicates the overall quality of the honey. A higher MGO rating means that the honey has a higher content of methylglyoxal.

In other words, a higher rating means that the honey will have higher antibacterial capabilities. What is the perfect MGO level?

Truthfully, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. You may believe that a higher grade is always better, but this isn’t always the case.

If you’re trying to deal with skin problems, a higher MGO rating is probably better. However, it is best to choose a lower rating if you’re going to consume the Manuka honey daily.

If the MGO rating is too high, the honey might be too powerful for everyday use. Find out what you’re trying to do before choosing the right MGO level. Also, don’t forget to evaluate the other grades.

What Is The TA Rating?

You are also going to find TA grades. It is equally important because it tells the customer about the antibacterial activity of the honey. When this grade is determined, the Manuka honey is compared to a disinfectant solution.

If the honey has a TA grade of 15+, it means that the honey’s disinfectant activity is the same as a phenol solution of 15%. In simple terms, the TA grade can tell you how effectively the Manuka honey will kill bacteria.

A higher rating means that the Manuka honey will more effectively kill bacteria.

What Is The K-Factor?


Although other brands may use it now, the K-Factor rating was primarily used by Wedderspoon. The grade specifies how much pollen is in the honey.

It doesn’t tell the customer anything about the strength of the honey. Instead, it is primarily about the purity of the product.

This is probably the least important grade, but it is still worth looking at.

Which Grade Matters?

Ultimately, it is vital to understand that certain grading systems are more important than others. In particular, customers should pay close attention to the UMF grade and the MGO grade.

The UMF system is the strictest. It ensures that the customer is getting the best and highest quality product. If you see a UMF number on the bottle, it specifies the amount of MGO in the honey.

MGO and UMF are not interchangeable. The most reputable Manuka honey brands will use the UMF system because it is the most prestigious and respected.

Is A Higher UMF Rating Better?

Depending on the customer’s intentions, a higher UMF rating may or may not be better. Again, it depends on what the product is being used for. Regardless, a higher UMF number means that the honey contains more beneficial compounds.

When Manuka honey has a higher UMF grade, it will be darker. It’ll also have a medicinal taste. With this in mind, honey with a higher grade may not be suitable for everyday use.

Although there may be some exceptions, the lowest rating is usually 5+. Most brands have at least 20+ at the maximum, but there could be higher concentrations.

If the goal is to kill bacteria and deal with infections, you should always choose Manuka honey with a higher UMF rating. After all, the rating means that the honey will be more effective for this purpose.

Comparing UMF And MGO


It is usually easy to compare UMF ratings with MGO ratings. However, it is pertinent to choose a reputable brand because some are not trustworthy.

Some brands will deceptively use an MGO while lying about the actual contents. Therefore, it is generally best to stick with UMF-certified brands.

However, it should be noted that a UMF 5+ rating should translate to an MGO 83+ rating.

The following statements would be true too.

  • UMF 10+ would be MGO 263+
  • UMF 12+ would be MGO 356+
  • UMF 15+ would be MGO 514+
  • UMF 18+ would be MGO 696+
  • UMF 20+ would be MGO 829+

Again, it is best to be cautious when buying brands that only offer the MGO rating. This may mean that the Manuka honey is not UMF certified.

Make sure it is certified to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality product possible.

How Much UMF Is Good Enough?

As mentioned above, too much UMF could be too much. In some cases, you’ll be better off choosing a lower rating.

UMF 5+ may be enough for people who want to use Manuka honey every day. The various strengths can be good for different purposes. Consider the following to decide which strength is right for you.

  • UMF 5+ – If you’re interested in using Manuka honey every day, you may want to start with the UMF 5+ rated products. The flavor will be mild without a strong medicinal taste. A UMF 5+ Manuka honey will give you a slight energy boost.
  • UMF 10+ – Teens and adults can consume 10+ Manuka honey regularly without issues. This honey will be strong enough to boost your immune system and your energy levels. The taste will be slightly stronger but not overwhelming.
  • UMF 15+ – As the strength gets higher, the honey will become more helpful for topical applications. As a result, you could use a product with a rating of UMF 15+ on your skin. It is great for healing cuts and treating acne. This is one of the most popular grades because it is so well-rounded.
  • UMF 20+ – UMF 20+ and higher grades are going to be more expensive because they’re so powerful. This grade is great for people who want to use the honey for other purposes. It can treat acne, heal scars, and speed up the healing of wounds. At this point, you’re going to notice a medicinal taste.
  • UMF 24+ – This is one of the most potent grades of Manuka honey. This honey can be added to foods and drinks, but it is also an effective antibacterial agent. This Manuka honey can reduce the visibility of scars and heal wounds faster.
  • UMF 26+ – This grade may be too much for everyday use, but it can be used for some purposes. Since the strength is so high, this grade is best for antibacterial purposes. It probably isn’t great for adding to recipes and instead should be consumed with a spoon. It is the purest grade and works well for treating acne, scars, and cuts.

It is essential to use this information to find the perfect grade for your unique needs. Otherwise, you may pick a product that is too weak or too strong.

More importantly, you need to make sure that you’re getting authentic, pure Manuka honey.

Other Things To Consider

The grade is vitally important so it shouldn’t be ignored. However, there are other things to consider when purchasing Manuka honey. Be sure to choose the right brand.

Research each brand extensively to ensure that you’re dealing with a reputable, trustworthy brand. Otherwise, you may not receive an authentic product.

You’ll also want to make sure that you can easily trace the ingredients back to their source. In particular, the company should make it easy to trace the honey back to its hive.

For the best results, the product should be UMF-certified. Read reviews from prior customers to get the best product.

Low-grade manuka honey is best for non-medicinal purposes. Generally, high-grade products should only be used when they’re diluted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Manuka Honey Pure?

The potency of Manuka honey depends on its antibacterial activity. The higher the antibacterial activity, the higher the UMF rating. For example, Manuka honey rated UMF 20+ is more potent than UMF 10+. 

The best way to determine the significance of UMF is to think of it as the Sun Protection Factor “SPF, the rating system for sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection offered by sunscreen.

Is Raw Manuka Honey More Potent Than Pasteurized Manuka Honey?

Research reveals raw Manuka honey is more potent than pasteurized Manuka honey. Pasteurization is the process of removing impurities, such as yeast from Manuka honey. While removing impurities, pasteurization also removes some pollen and antioxidants. 

Pasteurized honey is more uniform in color with a smoother consistency. As a rule of thumb, the higher the UMF, the higher potency of the antibacterial properties. 

What Is UMF 20+ Comparable To?

Manuka honey UMF 20+ is comparable to 850 MGO. UMF 5+ is comparable to 85 MGO.

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