What is MGO In Manuka Honey? MGO Explained

What is MGO in Manuka Honey

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 and has made Manuka one of the most sought after honeys 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. But 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 in 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, 30 of which are found only in Manuka.

We grade our products for their MGO levels as it is a key bioactive compound, and also due to the fact that it is a superb marker compound.

As the MGO grade gets higher, the other key bioactive compounds in Manuka (e.g. lepteridine, leptosperin) also get higher.

MGO is clearly marked on the front of each Manukora product for simplicity - 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) which is why you can also find a UMF rating on most of our labels. A simple guide of MGO vs UMF is below.

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 displays the lab's test results for your jar of honey. Simply scan your jar of honey with your phone.





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 10 = MGO263

UMF/NPA 15 = MGO514

UMF/NPA 20 = MGO829

You can read more about the difference between UMF and MGO and why we only carry the MGO certification here on our blog Here:



2008 study: Adams, Christopher.J., Boult, C.H., Deadman, B.J., Farr, J.M., Grainger, M.N.C., Manley-Harris, M. , Snow, M.J. Isolation by HPLC and characterisation of bioactive fraction of New Zealand manuka (Letospermum scoparium) honey. J. Carbohydr. Res. 2008, 343, 651-659

2009 study: Adams, Christopher.J., Boult, C.H., Deadman, B.J., Farr, J.M., Grainger, M.N.C., Manley-Harris, M. , Snow, M.J. Corrigendum to "Isolation by HPLC and characterization of the bioactive fraction of New Zealand manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honey"[Carbohydr. Res. 2008, 343, 651-659]. Carbohydr. Res. 2009, 344(18):2609-2609 

Analytica labs 

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