What Grade of Manuka Honey is Best?

Manuka honey is a rare specialty honey that is prized for it’s delicate floral taste and it’s antibacterial and medicinal properties. You can only get manuka honey from the manuka bush that grows in New Zealand.

Because of it’s nutritional composition, manuka honey has health, beauty, and culinary uses. It contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and methylglyoxal, a compound with serious antibacterial effects. 

Choosing manuka honey can sometimes be a little difficult, as each jar is graded by standards put in place by the New Zealand Government. Manuka honey grades reflect the methylglyoxal content of the honey.  So, what grade of manuka honey is best?

Manuka Honey Grading 

The higher the grade, the more methylglyoxal is in the honey.  That being said, lower grade manuka honey is not of poor quality – it just has different uses than higher graded manuka honey.  When buying manuka honey, you’ll see one or both of these ratings on the jar – MGO and UMF. 


MGO stands for methylglyoxal.  This is the compound that gives manuka honey its healing and antibacterial properties. 

When choosing manuka honey, you may see a MGO rating on the label. This rating reflects the concentration of methylglyoxal in the honey.  For example, if the label shows MGO 100+, it means that there is at least 100 milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilogram in the honey. 


Some brands of manuka honey use a UMF rating instead of MGO.  UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor.  

UMF ratings reflect the concentration of 3 different compounds in the honey.  Those are methylglyoxal, DHA, and leptosperin.  It also tests for non-peroxide activity, which is a measurement of the potency and quality of manuka honey. 


Manuka honey MGO ratings usually range from 30 to over 1000 mg/kg.  The higher rating indicates a higher amount of methylglyoxal in the honey.  UMF ratings range from 5 to 20+. The higher the UMF rating, the more antibacterial properties it has. 

MGO RatingUMF Rating

Multifloral vs Monofloral

Multifloral means that the honey comes from different flowers.  Monofloral honey means that the bees have foraged from just one type of flower. In the case of manuka honey, that is the manuka flower. 

However, bees will fly 2 miles from their hive to forage, so how do they know if the honey is monofloral?  Beekeepers go to great lengths to keep bees foraging from only manuka flowers.  

They place their hives in dense manuka forests to ensure the purest honey. Therefore, monofloral honey is much more pure and effective than multifloral.

What Grade of Manuka Honey is Best?

To determine what grade of manuka honey is best for you, you first need to think about what you will be using it for.  

Table Grade Manuka Honey: UMF 5 – UMF 10 or MGO 83 – MGO 263

Table grade manuka honey is mostly used as a sweetener.  Added to smoothies or yogurt, table grade manuka honey is great for daily use.  However, antimicrobial properties are low, so if you want to reap the health benefits of manuka honey, go with a higher grade. 

UMF 5 – UMF 10 or MGO 83 – MGO 263 manuka honey is best to use as a sweetener. 

Moderate Grade Manuka Honey: UMF 10 – UMF 15 or MGO 263 – MGO 600

Moderate grade manuka honey is used for both taste and for therapeutic purposes. It does contain antimicrobial activity, therefore it should be used daily for health and wellness.  This grade manuka honey can also be used topically for skin benefits. 

UMF 10 – UMF 15 or MGO 263 – MGO 600 manuka honey is best to use for taste and therapeutic purposes.

Premium Grade Manuka Honey: UMF 15 – UMF 25 or MGO 600 – MGO 1200

Premium grade manuka honey has the highest amount of antibacterial properties. It is great for medicinal purposes as well as for skin and wound healing, sore throat, and digestive issues. 

UMF 15 – UMF 25 or MGO 514 – MGO 1200 manuka honey is best for medicinal purposes and general health and wellbeing. 


Manuka honey has 2 different grading systems – UMF and MGO. The higher the grade, the more methylglyoxal is in the honey.  The best grade of manuka honey depends on what you intend to use it for.