What do all those different Manuka Honey labels mean????

Here is a response to a query received today from a customer based in China who was understandably confused about all the different grades of manuka honey that are available:



   Can help me to explain – without plus Manuka honey; with Manuka honey blend, Manuka honey; Multifloral blend of different, thank you”.


Hi – yes it is a bit confusing all the different honeys that are around. Here is a quick explanation.


Multiflora honey  is a honey that is from the nectar of many flowers.  It has either been blended / mixed up by the bees as the fly from one variety of flower to another or it may have been mixed by the beekeeper or processing factory.  Multiflora honeys should be a lot cheaper than a Manuka honey.


Manuka honey is a monofloral meaning the honey nectar has come from one main flower – the Manuka flower.


Manuka honey is very expensive, mainly because of its UMF activity, so beekeepers are keen for their bees to make lots of pure Manuka honey with high UMF levels.  They want their bees to ideally just visit Manuka flowers. But the bees can fly up to 8 km from their hive and stop and get nectar from other flowers as well as Manuka.  We can now test to see if the honey really is Manuka honey, and there is a well-developed science around measuring UMF and MGO


So if a honey is labelled

  • Manuka Blend, then it has a bit of Manuka (probably less than 30%,) no UMF activity and is a mix of flower nectars.
  • Manuka Honey, but no number, then it is probably more than 30% Manuka, but little or no UMF activity, But still a great honey and it will probably be more expensive than most other monofloral honeys.

Then there are the Manuka honeys with numbers prefixed by words such as ‘BioActive’, ‘’Áctive +’’, ‘’Total Activity’’ MGO or UMF.  These different grading systems cause a lot of confusion.  But usually the higher the number in the grading system of 5, 10 15 and 20, then the more active and therefore the more expensive….  Here is a bit of an explanation:

  • Manuka with a number (e.g. 5, 10, 15. 20) plus the words ‘Total Activity’’ – I recommend you don’t buy it.  Total Activity is not the same as UMF or MGO and is usually a deliberate attempt to mislead the consumer.
  • Bioactive or Active +.  Might be ok, but if you want to be sure you are getting a genuine product, ask to see the laboratory results confirming the MGO or NPA/UMF.
  • UMF – any brand.  These should be a genuine product, backed up by the UMF brand.  I would recommend UMF.
  • MGO – this is a completely different numbering system and does cause confusion with consumers.  Manuka Health is a trusted brand that uses MGO for grading their honey.
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