Manuka Honey Ratings – What Do the Numbers Mean?

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If you’re interested in Manuka honey, you’ve likely noticed the numbers listed on most jars. You’ll see ratings such as 10+, 20+, 30+, and also  letters like UMF and MGO. What do these mean?

It can be incredibly confusing!

Manuka honey is not like any other honey. It has additional attributes that make it highly prized and beneficial. Not just any honey can be called Manuka honey. 

The New Zealand Government has a standard for Manuka Honey and every jar of Manuka Honey (not bulk sizes) packed in New Zealand has to pass this test in order to get an export license. However, this does not apply to Manuka not packed in New Zealand.

In my last post about Manuka honey, we discussed UMF vs Non-UMF and how each grading system is used to grade Manuka honey. There are very specific compounds that must be present in adequate amounts in order for honey to be considered Manuka honey. Each of these systems evaluates those important attributes. 

One of the most important attributes measured is the methylglyoxal content. This is the non-peroxide, antibacterial activity that makes Manuka honey so special. Both UMF and MGO grading systems measure the methylglyoxal content of honey,  but do so slightly differently. Click here to read the post for more information

So, let’s talk about Maunka honey numbers. What do they mean?

The number rating on both UMF and MGO rated honey indicated the concentration of methylglyoxal content in that batch of honey. 

The higher the number, the higher the concentration of methylglyoxal. Honey with higher numbers has the same qualities as that with lower numbers, but is more potent.

If a jar has the letters MGO, it has been tested for the methylglyoxal content. The numbers after MG or MGO show the Methylglyoxal Level in mg/kg. 

Note: Non-UMF Manuka honey is not inferior honey. It is most often Manuka honey produced by quality beekepers that do not wish to pay the high costs of joining the UMFHA. This does not mean it is a poor quality honey but should always have a MG rating to ensure activity. 

You can translate the UMF and MGO numbers like this:

UMF® 5+ = MGO (Methylglyoxal Level) ≥83 mg/kg 

UMF® 10+ = MGO (Methylglyoxal Level) ≥261+ mg/kg

UMF® 20+ = MGO (Methylglyoxal Level) ≥829+ mg/kg

It should be noted that some companies have their own rating system. I personally find it easiest to look for the MGO content. It may not be on the front of the label, but is often located somewhere. However, that is not always the case, so you may need to familiarize yourself with the UMF ratings as well.

But which one should you get? Is higher always better?

One factor to note is that the higher the UMF or MGO rating, the higher the concentration of methylglyoxal. Your selection will depend on the intended use of Manuka honey.

If you plan to use it to sweeten tea, baked goods, or spread on toast, but want some added benefits, then the lower ratings would be suitable. (UMF 5-10)

If you plan to take the honey as a supplement for general well being or digestive health then a higher rating might be in order. 

For treating wounds and burns, the highest possible rating is best as it has the greatest concentration of antibacterial and antiviral compounds. 

Manuka honey ratings table

For a quick comparison of the numbers and uses see the Manuka honey ratings table below. 

StrengthMGOApprox UMF equiv.Manuka TypeSuggested Use
Low30+n/aMultifloralEveryday sweetener
Mild100+UMF 5+MonofloralEveryday general wellbeing
Medium200+UMF 8+MonofloralGeneral wellbeing & digestive health
High500+UMF 15+MonofloralCosmetics and digestive health

Manuka honey is one of the best honeys you’ll ever eat! I thoroughly enjoy using it for wellness support, facial care, burn treatments, and general sweetening of drinks and foods. I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion around Manuka honey ratings so you can feel confident in your choices!

The Best Manuka Honey

My favorite Manuka honey comes from Pacific Resources International

PRI provides a full Certificate of Analysis (COA) showing the DHA, MG and UMF levels for every jar of honey they carry.

Simply send the batch number (find it on the label) and they will provide the Certificate of Analysis for that specific batch of honey. Pretty awesome, right?

PRI sells UMF Manuka honey as well independently tested Manuka honey. I have quite honestly never used any honey that remotely compares to the honey I get from PRI. 

Their honey is sourced and packed by family-owned beekeepers and is compliant with Manuka Honey standards set by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.

PRI carries a wide variety of honey as well as many Manuka Honey products including Caramels, Chocolates, Nuggets, Cough syrups, and Lozenges.

Click here to pay them a visit.

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