Understanding the Manuka Honey grading system

The two main Manuka grading systems used in New Zealand are UMF and MGO. Research and studies have shown that manuka honey has antibacterial benefits due to the ingredient called methylglyoxal (MGO) that exists naturally in Manuka honey. Generally, the higher the honey's methylglyoxal content, the higher the UMF or MGO rating will be.

As a simple guide - remember anything over 10 UMF or 263 MGO is considered therapeutic or medicinal grade.

UMF is the Unique Manuka Factor. According to Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association that manages the UMF trademark, the quality of manuka can be determined by the presence of unique signature compounds such as Leptosperin, DHA and Methylglyoxal. The higher presence of the unique signature compounds, the better the purity and quality of the manuka honey and the higher UMF rating of the manuka honey.

MGO (Methylglyoxal). The MGO grading system is managed by Manuka Health New Zealand Limited. It specifically measures the amount of Methylglyoxal (MGO) compound in manuka honey. The higher the amount of Methylglyoxal in the manuka, the better the purity and quality of the manuka.

UMF and MGO Ratings compared 

The following table is a guide to compare between UMF and MGO ratings.





UMF 5+ 

MGO 83 

UMF 15+ 

MGO 514 

UMF 6+ 

MGO 113 

UMF 16+ 

MGO 572 

UMF 7+ 

MGO 146 

UMF 17+ 

MGO 633 

UMF 8+ 

MGO 182 

UMF 18+ 

MGO 696 

UMF 9+ 

MGO 222 

UMF 19+ 

MGO 761 

UMF 10+ 

MGO 263 

UMF 20+ 

MGO 829 

UMF 11+ 

MGO 308 

UMF 21+ 

MGO 899 

UMF 12+ 

MGO 356 

UMF 22+ 

MGO 971 

UMF 13+ 

MGO 406 

UMF 24+ 

MGO 1122 

UMF 14+ 

MGO 459 

UMF 25+ 

MGO 1200 



UMF 26+ 

MGO 1282 

* MGO is measured as mg/kg (ppm) 

Objectively, the best manuka honey will always be the one with the highest grade. This should have the most antibacterial properties and the highest potential for health benefits.

At a personal level, the best manuka choice is going to depend on how you plan to use the honey. There is a large jump in price as you go up the manuka honey grades. Paying for the higher grades doesn't really make sense if you'd like to make a face mask or put a spoonful in your tea.

So then, we need to consider how you're going to use your honey. 

Medicinal or Therapeutic Manuka Honey Uses

These are situations where the antibacterial aspects of the honey are significant. As a result, higher levels of antibacterial activity are going to be more powerful. Some such uses include the following:

  • For fighting a cold or an infection
  • Applied to the skin to promote wound or burn healing
  • For improving digestion or colon health
  • As a cough or sore throat remedy
  • For treating acne, hives and eczema

In these situations (and many more) the antibacterial impacts are critical. So, you need honey that has these effects. This is where manuka honey's grading system can be very useful and it's good to know.

Manuka Honey contains unique antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, stomach-healing, wound-repairing, and overall health-promoting properties that make it one of the “power foods” that no household should be without. Now you know how to buy it and when to use it.

Here at Nectavida, we have a range of Manuka Honey options to meet each of your specific needs. Shop Now!