Honey producers have a scale for rating the potency of Manuka honey. The rating is called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) The UMF rating reflects the concentration of MGO (Methylglyoxal) To be considered potent enough to be therapeutic, it needs a minimum rating of 10+ UMF or MGO 250+.
MGO & UMF Compared
MGO and UMF measure the level of methylglyoxal (MGO) in manuka honey products. Both are equally useful in helping to reassure consumers that their honey is laboratory tested, genuine, from New Zealand and guaranteed to have at least a certain level of methylglyoxal within the honey.
As well as methylglyoxal, the UMF grading system measures a number of additional markers that the MGO system doesn’t: these include Leptopserin, DHA and HMF.
But since it’s the methylglyoxal content that has so many people buzzing about manuka honey, MGO is often displayed on product packaging. Whilst not technically a grading system, it provides a clearer, no-nonsense indication of MGO content.
So, whilst MGO and UMF both measure the methylglyoxal — the compound people are interested in — the numbers they use do not correspond. Take a look below to see how the two systems compare.
MGO UMF Strength Popular uses include
MGO30+ None Low Daily sweetener
MGO83+ UMF5+ Low Daily sweetener
MGO100+ UMF6+ Mild Daily sweetener
MGO250+ UMF10+ Medium Wellness, wellbeing
MGO400+ UMF13+ High Wellness, wellbeing & skincare
MGO550+ UMF16+ High Wellness, wellbeing & skincare
MGO700+ UMF18+ Very High Wellness, wellbeing & skincare
MGO850+ UMF20+ Very High Wellness, wellbeing & skincare
MGO950+ UMF22+ Very High Wellness, wellbeing & skincare
How to choose a manuka honey product: which strength should I go for?
Looking out for either MGO or UMF on manuka honey packaging ensures you’re getting a genuine, authentic, wellness-packed product. But what potency do you need?
The strength of manuka honey products can vary quite a lot, from MGO 30+ through to MGO 100+ (UMF 6+) and even MGO 550 (UMF 16+).
When deciding what grade you’re after, you’ll want to consider the benefits you’d like from the product, the taste of the honey as well as your budget.
Use — higher strengths for higher wellness activity
How do you intend to harness your honey?
If you’re looking to use it to sweeten your drink, spread on some toast, pop into a smoothie or include in baked goods, some daily MGO30+ or MGO 100+ (UMF6+) will provide a nice amount of health-inducing methylglyoxal. These lower strengths are great for day-to-day flavoring and cooking.
If you’re looking for a bit more of an impact — perhaps as a supplement for general wellbeing, for soothing a sore throat or combating a cough or cold, or perhaps as part of a skincare routine — manuka honey with an MGO rating of at least 250+ (UMF 10+) may be in order, with this wellness activity scaling up in terms of strength until you get to MGO 550+ (UMF16+) and above.
Taste — higher grades can provide an earthy taste
The higher the grade of honey you choose, typically the earthier and slightly more medicinal the taste. Whilst by no means a bad thing, many people are used to the sweeter taste that comes with lower strengths of manuka honey, which is why these are more popular for cooking.
So if this is a consideration, you may prefer a manuka honey with slightly less methylglyoxal — MGO30+ or MGO100+ Eventually, you could progress to a slightly higher grade; it may be somewhat of an acquired taste!