What is IMF?


UMF Logo

UMF is a famous grading system which is used by the Manuka honey producers to evaluate the quality of their Manuka honey products. The history behind this UMF traces back to UMF Honey Associations, present in New Zealand, which actually drafted this UMF grading system. The basic protocol is to get your Manuka honey products meet the required standards as set by the UMP Honey Association and when after a test the requirements are met, the UMF license will be granted. This test is not a one-time test but is a test that is conducted on every batch of Manuka honey produced by any producer. Some of the regular users of UMF rating system are Happy Valley, Manukora, Zealand Honey Co., and the best Manuka honey producers of all time Kiva.

What does UMF test look for? UMF tests looks for 4 key features called Leptosperin, Methyglyoxal, HMF and DHA as these are a must-to-be-there elements for any authentic Manuka honey. When these standards are met and are tested and verified, the authentic batch of Manuka honey products will receive a Unique Manuka Factor [UMF] in which the last digit is the sum of all the chemicals put together. This number helps one to identify authorised and unauthorised products.

Sample UMF potencies :

  • When the UMF is from 5+ to 9+ it is termed as LOW GRADE.
  • When the UMF is from 10+ to 15+ it is termed as MEDIUM GRADE.
  • When the UMF is from 15+ to 20+ it is termed as HIGH GRADE.
  • When the UMF is 24+ then it is termed as SUPERIOR RARE HIGH GRADE.

Only when a manufacture or producer holds an authorised UMF license, he/she can get their official UMF trademark printed on their labels. Here are a few requirements that one should fulfil to get their UMF certificates:

  • Honey has to be produced and packed in New Zealand. All the UMF certified honey products has to be labelled in New Zealand. However, one of the main point is that, Manuka honey should never be imported to New Zealand.
  • Once the Manuka honey is fully packed it is time for testing it for the perfect quality, quantity and other related aspects as well. Its source, origin, production techniques, purity and authenticity will all be tested.
  • You need not worry about not getting real Manuka honey even with the correct UMF number because the UMF Manuka honey are regularly tested and audited.
  • Once all these requirements are met and the criteria are all fulfilled, the Official UMF Certificate will be issued to you which acts as Proof of Authenticity.

MGO - An Overview :

MGO Logo

MGO, also known as methylglyoxal, is another grading system used by the government of New Zealand to test and ensure that the Manuka honey produced and packed in New Zealand are all authentic and efficient. This is a grading system which was put to action only from 2008 by Professor Thomas Henle.

It was first used by Manuka Health and is one of the prominent users of this grading system. Manuka Health focuses on conducting researches on Manuka honey just to ensure that new innovations, standards and improvements arise in the field of Manuka and its honey products.

Manuka honey actually consists of methylglyoxal, a chemical, without any manually alterations. It is basically a natural process which is considered to be the ‘ingredient’ that has the ‘magic’ behind the success of Manuka honey products by Manuka Health organisation due to a research that stated the same thing. The research was conducted by Professor Thomas Henle (University of Dresden).

Now that both UMF and MGO are explained, here is a comparison between them on different levels. Manuka Health which uses the MGO grading system is actually a UMF Honey Association member. You should understand that the grade of the Manuka honey will be defined only by the presence of MGO particles in them and the exact amount of MGO content in Manuka honey products will be estimated by running tests, tracing the production till delivery process and also be ensuring that the required standards are met.

Therefore the ultimate goal for all Manuka honey producers is to increase their MGO grade levels.

KFACTOR - An Overview :


KFactor is actually a very unique grading system which is used only by Wedderspoon and maybe that is why it is termed as an ‘independent grading system’. KFactor was developed by Wedderspoon and was then approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand. KFactor is also used as an element and a reason to uplift the Manuka honey standards in the country. New discoveries and innovations lead to a better tomorrow. Similarly, Wedderspoon is now involved in many on-going researches which deals with the development of Manuka honey products.

If you have the KFactor license then it means you have the following in your Manuka honey products:

  • Manuka honey products will face the absence of pesticides, glyphosate and antibiotics.
  • The Manuka honey will be raw and fresh. It will also be unpasteurized unlike other honey products.
  • Your honey product will be recognised as a non-GMO product.
  • Anyone can trace the process of production till delivery or ‘hive to home’.
  • If your Manuka honey has KFactor license then it means that your product is from New Zealand.

Apart from all these technical aspects, there are 2 different types of KFactor which should be known as well.

i) KFactor 16 : This type is also called as Monofloral honey which deals with the honey extracted from a single Manuka plant, without any mixture of other plant’s qualities. Manuka plant is also called as Leptospermum scoparium and the term ‘mono’ refers to a single element.

ii) KFactor 12 : This type is also called as Multifloral Manuka honey which deals with the honey that is extracted from 2 or more Manuka plants. The term ‘multi’ refers too many and ‘floral’ refers to plants, thus from many plant is the meaning. The honey extracted through this method will have a blend of qualities.

Makers of Manuka :

The first and foremost marker of Manuka is methylglyoxal [MGO] which is actually an element that used as a grading system to test and verify the Manuka honey products.

The Non-Peroxide Activity [NPA] is measured through a grading system called UMF which also expresses the overall phenol disinfectants in the whole industry.

The connection between NPA and UMF is very relatable and is actually directly proportional because when the NPA scale rates to 18 then the UMF scale will read it as 18+. That is how close a relation they have.

UMF is also used as a measuring tool to measure the level of Leptosperin content present in the Manuka honey products.

The total MGO level of the Manuka honey products are identified and measured using dihydroxyacetone [DHA] which is an element present in the grading system called UMF. DHA is used as the foremost thing in evaluating the MGO levels.

Unlike any these 2 grading systems [MGO and UMF], KFactor is a system used by Wedderspoon individually to evaluate their Manuka honey products and is also used by them to ensure that their products meet the required legal requirements. KFactor is a grading system which looks for DHA, pH levels, purity, phenolic compounds, pollen count, and levels of antioxidant, live enzymes and also some chemical compounds which amounts to 250. However, apart from these aspects and concepts, none of the other relevant aspects like NPA or MGO or even the leptosperin levels are measured by KFactor.

Steps Involved in Comparing Various Manuka Honey Products When Different Grading Systems are Used : 

There are namely 3 different types of grading systems namely: i) UMF, ii) MGO and iii) KFactor. However the last grading system is used only by a single entity and thus places no big deal when it comes to comparison as the required information for a healthy comparison is absent in case of KFactor products.

However, the other 2 grading systems are inter-linked to each other as the one common measuring concept between them both is the MGO levels present in the Manuka honey products. MGO content can range from 0mg/1kg to that of 1000mg/1kg. Depending upon the presence of MGO, various conclusions about the Manuka honey products will be derived.

It is stated that any product that contains 100mg/1kg MGO is considered to be antibacterial. Another aspect understood from this is also, when someone states that it is MGO 100+ one can easily conclude that the Manuka honey product contains minimum 100mg of MGO.

As per studies it is said that the UMF ratings are directly proportional to the NPA levels.

For instance:

When NPA is 10, UMF is 10+ while MGO goes up to 256+.

When NPA is 18, then UMF is 18+, while MGO rises to 696+.

When NPA is 20, then UMF will be 20+, while MGO will be 829+.

This is how these 3 grading systems work.

Usage of Manuka Honey at Different Grade Levels :

  • When the UMF level comes around 15-20+ the Manuka honey is said to have a very high antibacterial activity along with high healing capacities.
  • When the UMF level comes around 10-15+ the Manuka honey is said to have a high antibacterial activity along with a good healing capacity.
  • When the UMF level comes around 5-10+ the Manuka honey is said to have a medium antibacterial activity along with elements that are enough for maintaining good health.
  • When the UMF level comes around 0-5+ the Manuka honey is said to have a low antibacterial activity with no other special elements. This will usually be normal honey.

We hope this section brought in a clear image about the 3 grading systems used to evaluate Manuka honey products.