While some Manuka honey brands label their honeys with a UMF, we prefer to report our Manuka honey’s MGO. Here’s the difference between the two… and why we favour  MGO.

 UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor

The phrase was first coined by Professor Peter Molan of the University of Waikato. Professor Molan was one of the first scientists to realise Manuka honey’s antimicrobial properties were caused by more than simple peroxides. His research showed Manuka honey has antibacterial properties even when it’s devoid of hydrogen peroxide. Professor Molan couldn’t explain what might be behind Manuka honey’s unique characteristics, but he did note that some Manuka honeys had greater antibacterial properties than others. To differentiate between varieties, Professor Molan came up with the Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF.
Read more about how UMF was established here.

UMF isn't a direct measure. As the UMF isn’t a measure of any direct chemical component, it’s still somewhat unscientific. MGO is much more precise.

 MGO vs UMF 

The following table shows how UMFs map to MGO values.

 MGO stands for methylglyoxal 

For 15 plus years scientists tried to discover the compound driving the stable anti-bacterial activity of manuka honey. The discovery of methylglyoxal by Professor Henle, Technical University of Dresden gave manuka honey credibility amongst the medical and scientific communities. This discovery was the catalyst for the rapid growth of manuka honey sales worldwide. The application of the methylglyoxal (MGO) concentration e.g. MGO 400 on the product label meant for the first time consumers could have trust and confidence in the product.

Read more on how MGO was established here.

Methylglyoxal is a direct, specific metric. Methylglyoxal has long been familiar to both medical and scientific communities. The organic chemical has proven bioactive properties. Even better, it can be measured directly. 


Measuring MGO concentrations is precisely what we do here at Helena Health. The measurements reveal exactly how much MGO is present in each of our batches of honey. 

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