How is Comvita Manuka Honey Graded?

You might have seen labels such as MGO, UMF™ and medical grade used in relation to manuka honey, but what exactly does each of these mean? Let’s take a look at some of the terminology surrounding manuka, and what these terms mean for Comvita manuka honey.

MGO in Manuka Honey

MGO is short for methylglyoxal, which is the dominant active component in manuka honey, used to measure the honey’s antibacterial activity.

MGO is usually followed by a number on manuka honey packaging. This number indicates the level of methylglyoxal in the honey. The minimum for a monofloral (made using the nectar of one plant species) manuka honey is MGO 83 - the higher the number, the higher the MGO level.

However, measuring only MGO levels is not enough to ensure that a compound is from a natural manuka honey source. At Comvita, we use a dual grading system - MGO & UMF™ - to provide you with extra assurance over the purity of your manuka honey.

UMF™ (Unique Manuka Factor)

UMF™ stands for Unique Manuka Factor, which is an independently certified quality assurance mark for genuine New Zealand monofloral manuka honey.

UMF™ measures both the quality and purity of manuka honey, based on the levels of three unique signature compounds found in manuka:

  • Methylglyoxal (MGO)
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)
  • Leptosperin

MGO forms from DHA in manuka honey as it matures*. Leptosperin is also a naturally occurring compound in manuka nectar**. Together, these three signature compounds indicate high-quality, authentic manuka honey.

Manuka honey’s UMF™ grade corresponds to its non-peroxide antimicrobial property. If your manuka honey has a UMF™ rating of 10 or higher, it has a non-peroxide antimicrobial property equivalent to that of a control 10% phenol solution. The higher the UMF™ rating, the higher the antibacterial property of the manuka.

Other Manuka Honey Grading Systems

MGO and UMF™ aren’t the only ways to grade the purity of manuka honey. Other grading systems for this type of honey include KFactor™ and Molan Gold, which measure other compounds found in manuka honey to test whether the honey is from a natural manuka source.

Find out more about the benefits of adding manuka honey to your routine.


* Adams, 2009

** Adams, 2009, Bong, 2017