How To Spot Fake Manuka Honey: A Buyer’s Guide

How To Spot Fake Manuka Honey: A Buyer’s Guide

 Executive Summary

  • Although genuine Manuka honey exists, the sale of fake Manuka honey has become a worldwide problem and should be an important consideration as you shop.
  • Genuine Manuka honey is produced only in New Zealand from the Manuka tea tree.
  • Authentic Manuka honey has unique chemical markers like MGO and Leptosperin and can be identified with proper testing.
  • Choosing Manuka honey with a reliable track record and traceable origin from a trusted brand will help you make the right choice.


Manuka honey has become a popular option for health enthusiasts and those who enjoy sweet treats, as it contains bioactive nutrients that provide multiple health benefits and has a delicious caramel-like flavor. Unfortunately, this popularity also means that there are many imposters out there trying to take advantage, producing lower-quality products to profit off of customers looking for the real thing.

With the prevalence of fake Manuka honey, you have to be more careful as a buyer to ensure that you choose a genuine product. On the bright side, you can protect yourself from buying counterfeit products by being well-informed and knowing all the signs of a pure product. This guide will help you tell apart the imposters from the real thing so that you can enjoy genuine, delicious super honey.


What Is Real Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a type of honey produced by bees that collect the nectar of flowers from the Manuka tea tree, which is native only to remote forests in New Zealand. Manuka honey is also difficult to harvest, as the Manuka tree only blooms for about two to six weeks during the year, making for an incredibly short harvest window. Therefore, real and authentic Manuka honey is quite rare.

You can tell the real thing apart from imposter products based on the nutrients found in the honey. Some measurements used to highlight the quality of Manuka honey include:

  • MGO Methylglyoxal is the primary standard for understanding Manuka honey and measuring its quality. MGO is a bioactive nutrient found uniquely in Manuka honey. The MGO rating highlights how much of the nutrient is present in the honey and ensures that the batch is genuine.

Although MGO is the best way to understand Manuka honey, some other terms you might come across include:

  • UMF – The Unique Manuka Factor is a different way to measure the bioactive nutrients in Manuka honey and evaluate quality. This certification identifies bioactive nutrients like MGO, DHA, HMF, and Leptosperin.
  • KFactor – You may come across this term, but it is not an official measurement used across Manuka brands. KFactor is a term created by the brand Wedderspoon, and data is not available to understand how it compares to other rating systems.


Identifying Counterfeit Manuka Honey

Counterfeit Manuka honey can take several forms. However, a knockoff product typically includes a trace of real Manuka honey and is then diluted with corn or rice syrup to increase the amount and sell more in bulk. Fortunately, you can identify fake Manuka honey by being vigilant and knowing what to look for.

Any Manuka honey exported from New Zealand must be tested by a facility approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries. If there is no record of this testing available or mentioned anywhere on the product label, you may be dealing with a counterfeit honey. 

Other red flags include:

  • The label does not include an MGO rating or metric for determining the quality
  • There is no mention of the product being from New Zealand
  • The product does not have an approval from the New Zealand government
  • You don’t recognize the brand and cannot find reliable information about them through research


Guidelines for Buying Genuine Manuka Honey

With the growing problem of imposter products, there are now more systems in place to help you spot authentic Manuka honey. You can take a few important steps to make sure you are buying genuine Manuka honey,

1. Identify the Origin

Since real Manuka honey only comes from New Zealand, a great first step is to make sure that you only buy honey that originated in New Zealand. Brands that produce authentic Manuka honey will be completely transparent about where their product originated. 

Check the label and look for the words “Made in New Zealand” or “Product of New Zealand” to ensure it is genuine. 

2. Check for Testing

Testing ensures that Manuka honey is authentic and contains the unique bioactive nutrients found in genuine Manuka honey. This testing will determine whether a batch of Manuka honey has specific chemical markers, like Leptosperin, MGO, DHA, and HMF. The presence of these chemical markers can confirm the authenticity and quality of the honey.

You should be able to find these test results through the label or the company website. It’s essential that any testing is conducted by an independent third party so you know that the results are reliable.

3. Look for Approval from the MPI

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is the governing body in New Zealand that oversees the sale of Manuka honey. Any Manuka honey sold for export must be tested by an MPI-approved facility and meet stringent requirements to be deemed authentic.

MPI standards ensure the authenticity of Manuka honey by verifying that it contains four chemicals from the Manuka nectar and a DNA marker from Manuka pollen. You should find verification of this approval on the label of an authentic product.

4. Choose from Trusted Brands

To ensure that you receive a quality, genuine product, choose from established brands that have a track record of authenticity and aren’t afraid to share the story behind their product. You can trust a brand has a quality product if they lay out all the crucial details about their honey. 

A quick dive into a brand should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What practices do they follow to produce their honey?
  • Is the honey approved by the MPI?
  • What testing has their honey undergone?
  • Do they have a reputation of happy customers?

If you can find answers to all these questions, you can confirm the authenticity of this honey and be on your way to enjoying a delicious and healthy melt-in-your-mouth treat.


Make the Informed Choice

Even with the risk of counterfeit Manuka honey, you don’t have to be discouraged in your search for a delicious and authentic product when you know what to look for. Taking time to verify the quality and authenticity will pay off, ensuring you enjoy a true super honey that is both healthy and delicious.

At Manukora, we make it easy to identify the authenticity of our honey—one scan of the QR code on any jar of our honey will confirm the origin of the product and highlight the careful practices that went into producing it. Check out our full collection of Manuka honey for yourself.




Ensuring mānuka honey is authentic | NZ Government

Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF) Grading System Explained | UMF

Identification and quantification of methylglyoxal as the dominant antibacterial constituent of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honeys from New Zealand | PMC
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