UMF ® vs MGO
Most premium Manuka honey from New Zealand carries a UMF ® rating. UMF® is a the New Zealand UMF® Honey Association quality mark encompassing the attributes of Manuka honey that make it special, including its non-peroxide activity (NPA). A UMF® rating also takes into account the honey’s concentration of DHA (dihydroxyacetone), Methylglyoxal, and Leptosperin. For the purposes of conversion, we assume a honey’s UMF® rating is generally equivalent to its non-peroxide activity measured as % phenol.
Only genuine UMF® Manuka honey contains a number of special indicators which indicate the content of the honey. Only specific honey contains all the characteristics required to be labelled as genuine UMF®-rated Manuka Honey. The UMF® quality mark assures you the honey you are purchasing is indeed genuine Manuka honey.
UMF® is the registered trademark of the UMF® Honey Association and can only be used by licensed operators that meet published standards and strict criteria. Manuka Extra (Manuka Honey NZ Ltd) holds UMF® License (N0. 2031).
One of the chemical indicators used to show the level or rating of UMF® Manuka honey is Methylglyoxal, known in the industy as MGO. This is the chemical that was identified originally as giving Manuka honey its unique antibacterial characteristics. The UMF® level varies based on the amount of MGO present in the honey.
Don’t get caught out on the difference between UMF ® and MGO
While MGO is the key to determining the UMF® level of Manuka honey, it cannot be used on its own to prove whether a honey is authentic Manuka Honey. For that reason, it is important to check for other markers such as Leptosperin, which is unique to Manuka honey and not able to be chemically manufactured.
Some non-UMF® Manuka honeys show ratings on the labels such as 12, 16 or 24+ that look confusingly like UMF ratings. Manuka honey without a true UMF® or MGO rating is unlikely to be premium Manuka honey and is more likely to be a blend with other types of honey. Clues to non-premium honey are mentions of ‘total activity’, ‘peroxide activity’, the absence of a UMF® trademark, or ratings based on any factors other than UMF® or methylglyoxal content.
Don’t confuse MGO numbers with UMF® numbers either, it can be very easy to do. Many brands display 83+, 263+, 541+ or 829+. These directly correlate to UMF® numbers.
To double check, ExportX have a great calculator here to convert the difference.
To find out more about how to tell the best Manuka Honey around – read our blog here.