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What’s the buzz on nature’s liquid gold?

Honey Ratings Explained


This liquid gold goes beyond adding an extra sweet kick to our drinks and dishes and comes in all different varieties. Understanding the activity ratings and raw benefits of honey can help you suggest the right product to suit your customer’s needs.

From a sugar alternative to a soothing, anti-bacterial natural remedy, after this article you’ll be confidently justifying their purchase, beyond the old “it’s good quality”, even if you’re not a honey fan (or scientist) yourself.

UMF, Manuka, NPA, raw… With so many different varieties and activity acronyms to distinguish the potency and unique qualities that honey possesses, the confusion can be overwhelming for your customers and yourself. Trust us, that dreaded question you’ve been avoiding – “What’s the difference between all these honeys anyway?” it will eventuate. So, let’s avoid the awkward crickets and spread the buzz behind honey.

Below we take a closer look at Manuka honey and its ratings, as well as raw and organic honeys to distinguish the differences.

This is a darker, stronger-flavored honey that is produced in New Zealand and Australia by bees that pollinate the nectar of the manuka bush. Manuka is commonly sold as an alternative medicine or natural remedy. Manuka honey has a prominence as an anti-bacterial treatment and in helping to treat burns, ulcers and more. This is because it naturally possesses anti-bacterial activity and anti-inflammatory properties.

There are two types of antibacterial activity that can be found in this honey, hydrogen peroxide activity and non-peroxide activity (NPA).

Not only is hydrogen peroxide activity found in manuka honey, but it’s actually found in most honey. Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant used for eons in our medicinal sphere. It’s instability in the presence of air and light makes it difficult to store and use, but when honey with this activity is applied to the skin or wound, it becomes stable and releases gradually. You can read more about this here.

Non-peroxide activity also leads to antibacterial effects. Using a different enzyme called catalase, the activity of oxidase is neutralized and hydrogen peroxide activity is no longer present.  Scientists called this non-peroxide activity, which is not found in all honeys. Non-peroxide activity is measured with different ratings.

Barnes Naturals explain how the scale works very well. “The scale relates to the increasing antibacterial inhibition effect of the honey on cultured bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), in comparison to what phenol achieves. Phenol is a strong organic compound that has clear antibacterial effects, providing a stable standard for comparison purposes.”

UMF stands for “Unique Manuka Factor”. It’s the New Zealand trademarked acronym that refers to the non-peroxide activity (NPA) in honey. NPA is simple the non-trademarked grade.

MGO is what gives manuka honey it’s antiseptic edge. The concentration of Methylglyoxal is up to 1000 times greater in mankua honey than other honeys. Research suggests  that manuka honey has an amazing ability to heal wounds, burns and skin infections, due to its antibacterial properties as well as its antiseptic properties formulated from the MGO that’s present in the honey.


While honey displaying a UMF or NPA rating only measures the non-peroxide activity, a honey that displays a “total activity” rating is the rating of both the non-peroxide activity and peroxide activity together. Unless the breakdown is displayed, you may not be able to determine the composition of non-peroxide activity and peroxide activity alone.

The higher the unique antibacterial properties of the honey, the higher activity rating it will display.

You can use this table or pass it to your customers to help convert between manuka honey UMF MGO and NPA ratings.

Honey Rating_Table
You can also use this free calculator to help your customers convert UMF to MGO.

Raw honey is never strained, filtered or heated, so contains all the natural, raw golden goodness. Often this type of honey will be loaded with many trace minerals, organic enzymes, antioxidants, plus antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which is what gives it a more interesting taste and flavour. Naturopaths and nutrition experts suggest that raw honey can benefit health and beauty. With the presence of amylase, raw honey is more prone to separation due to the degradation of starch. This separation doesn’t effect the life or quality of the honey.

Stocking a variety of honeys will allow you to offer your customers the honey that is best suited for their needs. Discover a few of our top sellers below.

Honey Rating - full range

Comvita Manuka Honey
Comvita is the world’s largest manufacturer of premium quality UMF Manuka Honey. They assure purity and quality. Produced in New Zealand the honey is made from the nectar of the manuka bush, native to New Zealand.

Barnes Naturals Manuka Honey
Barnes Naturals have a wonderful range of certified Active Manuka Honeys and Active Jarrah Honeys, which is Australia’s very own ‘Super Honey’ with a deliciously warm and thick caramel like flavour. All of Barnes Naturals honeys are tested and verified for activity by an independent laboratory, according to world standard testing methods.

Australia’s Manuka Honey
Australia’s Manuka specialise in the harvesting, processing and packaging high potency active medicinal grade honey. Their 100% pure honey comes from the pristine north coast of New South Wales. It’s also cold extracted to preserve beneficial compounds and enzymes.

Kiwi Cottage Manuka Honey
Kiwi Cottage harvests their manuka honey from their own hives based on the rugged east coast of New Zealand’s north island. The remote region is unique for its pollution free, manuka rich areas and the honey is renowned for its distinctive creamy flavour and subtle aroma.

The Whole Foodies Raw Honey
With the help of nature’s wild eucalypt nectar and beautiful Australian honeybees, The Whole Foodies have bottled a golden, flowing, natural, raw honey! By not using any straining or heating this wild harvested Australian honey offer trace minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Every Bit Organic Raw Honey
Every Bit Organic Raw Honey is more than a natural sweetener. It is not heated, so still contains all its natural antioxidants, enzymes and minerals. Vitamins found in honey include B6, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.

Wescobee Pure Honey
Wescobee honey offers customers a natural alternative to refined sugars. Their honey is 100% pure Australian honey and is free of additives, noxious substances, fermentation and admixtures of any kind including sucrose and invert sugars.