What is MGO In Manuka Honey? MGO Explained

What is MGO in Manuka Honey

Manuka honey’s antibacterial power comes from a unique compound called Methylglyoxal (MGO). This article explores what MGO is, why it’s important in Manuka honey, and how to verify honey’s MGO levels.

Key Takeaways

  • MGO is a natural compound in Manuka nectar that gives honey antibacterial qualities.
  • Higher MGO levels indicate stronger antibacterial properties.
  • MGO levels help verify the authenticity and quality of Manuka honey.

Comparison Table

Low MGO Manuka

High MGO Manuka

MGO Content

<100 mg/kg

>800 mg/kg

Antibacterial Strength

Weak to moderate

Very strong

Other Bioactives

Lower levels

Higher levels


Standard Honey

Manuka Honey

Unique Compounds


Over 2,000, including MGO

MGO Content


Variable levels

Antibacterial Strength


High, correlates with MGO content


Authentic Manuka Honey

Fake Manuka Honey

MGO Content

Lab verified

Unverified or absent


Clear MGO grade + traceability code


Lab Tests

Available via traceability code


What is MGO in Manuka honey? 

MGO, or Methylglyoxal, is a natural compound found only in Manuka honey. It is responsible for Manuka’s potent antibacterial properties. The higher the MGO content, the stronger the antibacterial activity, making MGO a marker of quality and authenticity.


How can I verify the MGO levels in my Manuka honey? 

Authentic Manuka honey will clearly display the MGO grade on the label. Some brands also provide traceability codes to view independent lab tests confirming MGO levels. Simply check the MGO grade and scan any traceability QR code.

Executive Summary:

What is MGO in Manuka Honey?

If you've ever wondered about the meaning of Manuka honey MGO, you're not alone. MGO, or Methylglyoxal, is a unique naturally occurring compound found in Manuka honey that exhibits potent antibacterial activity. In fact, this compound has made Manuka one of the most sought after kinds of honey in the world.

A study in 2008 by researchers at Waikato University found that the antimicrobial activity (NPA) in Manuka honey (i.e. its antibacterial properties) was directly correlated with its MGO levels. 

So, the higher the MGO, the stronger the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey.

Make sense? Great. Yet, where does MGO come from? 

Origins of MGO in Manuka Honey: Where Does MGO Come From?

MGO is a naturally occurring compound that comes from the nectar of the Manuka tea tree flowers. 

Not all Manuka flowers provide the same levels of MGO. 

Thus, beekeepers seek remote and active Manuka forests to place their hives so they can collect potent Manuka nectar with high MGO potential. 

Understanding the Full Story of MGO in Manuka Honey

Manuka honey has over 2000 unique natural compounds, far more than other honey types—and 30 of which are found only in Manuka. Interestingly, as the MGO grade gets higher, the other key bioactive compounds in Manuka (e.g. lepteridine, leptosperin) also get higher. This means that the higher MGO Manuka honey options may give way to more benefits.

At Manukora, we grade our products for their MGO levels, indicating that all of our Manuka honey comes from genuine and authentic sources. 

This also helps our loyal customers determine the right type of Manuka honey for their lifestyle.

Our range includes options like the highly potent UMF 24 MGO 1123 and the convenient MGO 850 10-pack stick packets, catering to different needs and preferences.

For those who prefer a milder option, our Manuka Honey MGO 200 offers a perfect balance. Discover more about the superfood properties of Manuka honey in our informative guides and explore its rich history and unique characteristics here.

MGO is clearly marked on the front of each Manukora product for simplicity—like we said, the higher the MGO number, the higher the potency of the key bioactive compounds in Manuka.

We’re also a member of the UMF association (Member 2228).

Ensuring Authenticity: How to Verify Your Manuka Honey is Genuine

Because authenticity and traceability are so important to us, we’ve implemented a special traceability system that allows you to trace your jar of honey back to it’s source location and it even view the lab test results of your specific jar.

Simply scan the QR code on your honey jar with your phone, and you'll discover all you need to know about your unique batch.





What does MGO mean in Manuka honey?

MGO stands for 'Methylglyoxal', a naturally-occurring compound found in Manuka honey.

The concentration of MGO in Manuka honey determines its antibacterial properties. The higher the MGO level, the stronger the antibacterial qualities of the honey.

Why is MGO important in Manuka honey?

MGO is important in Manuka honey because it's the main bioactive compound responsible for the honey's antibacterial properties.

A higher concentration of MGO in the honey equates to stronger antibacterial activity, making Manuka honey a desirable option for those seeking its health benefits.

How can I verify the MGO levels in my Manuka honey?

The MGO levels are clearly marked on the packaging of genuine Manuka honey products. For instance, Manukora products feature the MGO grade prominently on their labels.

Furthermore, some brands, like Manukora, provide a comprehensive traceability system allowing you to trace the honey back to its source and view the lab's test results for your particular jar of honey.

What is the relationship between MGO and UMF ratings in Manuka honey?

The MGO and UMF ratings in Manuka honey are both measures of the honey's antibacterial strength.

MGO is a measure of the Methylglyoxal content, while UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor, is a comprehensive rating that measures the presence of key markers, including MGO, leptosperin, and DHA. A higher UMF rating typically means a higher MGO level, but it also takes other unique markers into account.

Therefore, both are important for assessing the quality and effectiveness of Manuka honey.

However, at Manukora, while we still ensure a comprehensive assessment of all these additional UMF markers through third-party laboratories, our primary focus is directed towards the MGO rating..

We believe in the power of transparency and specificity that the MGO scale provides. It offers a direct quantification of Methylglyoxal content, which is a crucial determinant of the honey's antibacterial power. While UMF is indeed a holistic scale, it can sometimes present an ambiguous picture to consumers, due to the variety of markers it evaluates.

By concentrating on MGO, we ensure that we deliver an uncomplicated, yet accurate, representation of our Manuka honey's potency to our customers.

While Manukora is still UMF certified as a company, in 2022, we opted to remove the UMF certification from our labels and focus on MGO grading certification to avoid confusion between numbers.

MGO is one of the key bioactive compounds in Mānuka honey. The higher the MGO, the higher the other key bioactives such as Leptosperin (a key antioxidant) which we also test for.

UMF is simply a different system to measure the same bioactive compounds in Manuka (MGO, DHA, HMF, Leptosperin). We test every single one of these (+ more such as glyphosate residue) at third-party labs and make them available on our QR trace system on every product.

As a result, we no longer show a UMF value on our lab reports but you can see all of the test results for the key compounds including NPA (non peroxide activity).

The NPA number is the exact same as the UMF number.

  • UMF/NPA 5 = MGO83
  • UMF/NPA 10 = MGO263
  • UMF/NPA 15 = MGO514
  • UMF/NPA 20 = MGO829

You can read more about the difference between UMF and MGO here and why we only carry the MGO certification on every Manukora jar.


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