UMF™ Manuka Honey Grading Explained

27 May 2022

If you’re a business considering monofloral Mānuka honey as part of your inventory or ingredients in one of your products, look no further than this article. As the gold standard of Mānuka honey grading and certification, the Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF™) sits at its absolute peak. While Mānuka honey suppliers and producers use several systems, Midlands Apiaries can provide you with UMF™-certified Mānuka honey, encompassing everything from purity to authenticity.  

This article will outline what Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMF™HA) tests for when they award a certification and how those criteria contribute to quality Mānuka honey. We will also shine a spotlight on the four most critical bioactive chemicals that give Mānuka honey the unique characteristics your customers will be chasing. 

Midlands Apiaries is capable of producing unprocessed, pure, raw Mānuka honey for businesses across the world. 


Why Is UMF™ Considered To Be The Gold Standard? 

UMF™ is a certification for validating genuine Mānuka honey and considers far more than other systems. This method is the only quality and rating system that independently certifies the quality of all factors that makes New Zealand Mānuka honey unique. Many people are happy with the methylglyoxal (MGO) alone, as this biochemical has been highlighted as potentially linked to its unique antibacterial properties. 

However, MGO is not the only component that makes this honey so revered and, therefore, shouldn’t be used on its own as a testament to authentic Mānuka honey. 


What Are The Four Key Markers That Determine UMF™ Grade? 


1. Leptosperin

Leptosperin determines the authenticity of Mānuka honey. A unique compound found solely within the nectar of the Mānuka flower; this biochemical is the DNA marker that validates genuine honey. As a compound that can only be created by nature, UMF™ uses leptosperin as one of the most important indicators when determining purity. 


2. Methylglyoxal (MGO)

Methylglyoxal determines the potency of Mānuka honey. As briefly mentioned above, MGO is enough for a few Mānuka honey buyers as they know it to be the potency factor. However, there is much more to unique Mānuka honey than potency. MGO can to be artificially inserted into honey, which is why you need all four factors to ensure a genuine Mānuka honey product. Over the past few decades, there has also been speculation that MGO may contain antibacterial properties


3. Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Dihydroxyacetone determines the shelf-life of Mānuka honey. This biochemical is the precursor to MGO and will gradually convert to MGO over time. The higher the concentration of DHA, the longer the life of the MGO will be maintained. Typically speaking, a DHA concentration of more than 70mg/kg is considered high quality.  


4. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF)

Hydroxymethylfurfural determines the freshness of Mānuka honey. This heat-sensitive compound is an essential factor in determining the quality of Mānuka honey as it assures the customer that the honey hasn't been stored for too long or processed. HMF levels that are less than 40mg/kg are considered to be of a quality level. 


What Does Each Number On A UMF™ Grade Mean? 

The UMF™HA (Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association) will consider the above biochemicals as they determine the overall UMF™ grade for each Mānuka honey jar. This number ranges from UMF™ 5+ and has been known to go as high as UMF™ 32. Known throughout the Mānuka honey community, these numbers are what customers want to see clearly on every genuine Mānuka honey product. 

Many customers are content with the lower-end grades of UMF™ 5+ to UMF™ 10+ as it still provides a unique experience. Filled with natural sugars and minerals, those looking for a raw treat instead of artificial sugar will much prefer pure Mānuka honey. Customers seeking a higher potency level and additional nutritional support may be more interested in a UMF™ 20+ and above. 


Midlands Apiaries Can Provide You With 100% Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey

Midlands Apiaries is the perfect partner for your brand, whether you provide skincare, winter wellness products or food and drink. Our widespread Mānuka honey supply and production operations can accommodate your needs. Proudly supplying multifloral and UMF™-certified monofloral Mānuka honey, we can work with you to achieve your goals. 

We also offer the services of a highly knowledgeable sales and marketing team. So if you’re looking to bring a fantastic brand to market, our team of professionals can plan a pathway to your launch. With an extensive network of honey supplies and laboratories - Midlands Apiaries can provide your business with everything it needs.

Additionally, as the largest New Zealand supplier of wholesale Mānuka honey globally, Midlands Apiaries knows a thing or two about quality. An accredited, independent laboratory tests each batch of Mānuka honey from Midlands Apiaries for certification. We are very aware of the stringent requirements set forth by UMF™HA. Our undeniable expertise in crafting Mānuka honey will give your business the necessary confidence to consistently deliver quality products. 

Get in touch with us today for more information about how Midlands Apiaries can make for a beneficial partner in your budding business. 



Johnston, M., McBride, M., Dahiya, D., Owusu-Apenten, R., & Nigam, P. S. (2018). Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview. AIMS Microbiology, 4(4), 655–664. https://doi.org/10.3934/microbiol.2018.4.655



" UMF™ is a certification for validating genuine Manuka honey and considers far more than other systems. "