what is UMF?

What makes Manuka honey different than any other honey is that it contains chemical markers unique to the manuka plant. Manuka honey producers use different grading systems to measure those chemicals. Here you can learn more what is UMF, MGO and KFactor.

What is UMF?

UMF stands for “Unique Manuka Factor” and is a grading system developed by the UMF Honey Association in New Zealand. The UMF Honey Association grants UMF licenses to Manuka honey manufacturers who meet their standards. The UMF rating system is used by a number of brands such as Manukora, Comvita, Kiva and Happy Valley.

what is umf

What is MGO?

The MGO grading system has been developed by professor Thomas Henle in 2008. It is primarily used by the company Manuka Health. Manuka Health is the most popular company that uses the MGO grading system. In addition, Manuka Health conducts independent research on Manuka honey to bring new standards to the Manuka world.

mgo certified

What is KFactor?

KFactor is also an independent grading system and is used by the company Wedderspoon. It has been approved by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries which develops standards for Manuka honey in the country. Wedderspoon’s ongoing scientific research contributes many innovations to Manuka honey products.

wedderspoon kfactor

Markers

The most common marker for Manuka honey is MGO (methylglyoxal). It is a toxic compound with antibacterial properties and is measured in the UMF and MGO grading systems. However, the UMF grading system also measures NPA (non-peroxide activity) which represents the industry’s standard phenol disinfectant. The NPA marker relates directly to the overall UMF rating. If a Manuka honey has a NPA of 18 then it will be UMF 18+. Leptosperin is naturally found in Manuka honey and is also measured in UMF. DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is also present in the UMF grading system. It is the precursor for methylglyoxal and determines the overall MGO levels.

The KFactor grading system is quite different than UMF and MGO. It measures markers such as purity, live enzymes, over 250 chemical compounds, DHA, pollen count, pH levels, antioxidant levels and phenolic compounds. Interestingly, it does not measure MGO, NPA or leptosperin levels.

Please find the chart below for a comparison of UMF, MGO and KFactor and the markers they measure.

what is umf
mgo 550 rating
kfactor rating

MGO (methylglyoxal)

NPA (non-peroxide activity)

leptosperin

DHA

MGO (methylgyoxal)

purity

live enzymes

over 250 chemical residues

pollen count (70% and higher)

DHA

pH levels

antioxidant levels

phenolic compounds

So how to compare the quality of the different Manuka honeys if they use different grading systems? Well, the UMF and MGO grading systems measure one common marker which is MGO.  

The concentration of MGO (methylglyoxal) ranges from 0mg/1kg to 1000mg/1kg. Anything above 100mg/1kg is considered antibacterial. In turn, this makes easy for consumers to understand that a MGO 100+ Manuka honey contains at least 100mg of methylglyoxal.

The UMF rating corresponds directly to the NPA levels.

Please go to the table for a comparison of NPA, UMF and MGO.

NPA UMF MGO
10 10+ 256+
15 15+ 514
18 18+ 696+
20 20+ 829+

Lastly, let’s look at the final comparison chart to get an idea for the uses for Manuka honey at different grade levels.

Use UMF MGO KFactor
Very high antibacterial activity. Superior healing properties. 15-20+ 400-550 18-22
High antibacterial activity. Good healing properties. 10-15+ 100-400 14-18
Medium level activity. Suitable for maintaining good health. 5-10+ 30-100 8-14
Low level activity. Comparable to normal honey. 0-5+ 0-30 0-8

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