A simple equivalence table to help you convert between MGO, UMF and NPA ratings.
Picking the right kind of raw manuka honey can be tricky.
The fact that there are mainly so many parallel honey grading systems in place makes it even more confusing.
Some honey producers use the MGO system while others seem to favor the UMF system - but there’s no need to get overwhelmed.
If you know the right way to convert between indicators, you can easily compare the two systems and pick the jar of honey that best suits your purpose.
Here’s a parity chart that compares MGO values to UMF and NPA values. This chart will help you draw up a rough equivalence:
MGO UMF NPA
83+ 5+ 5
263+ 10+ 10
514+ 15+ 15
696+ 18+ 18
829+ 20+ 20
1200+ 25+ 25
Manuka Honey Grading Systems
Manuka honey is rich in many bioactives, some of which give it its exceptional antimicrobial strength. There are also some compounds that only exist naturally in raw manuka honey.
Some of these bioactives are called ‘manuka markers’. These are compounds that are of interest to honey producers for quality assurance purposes. Their presence confirms that the honey is truly raw, untempered and full of natural goodness.
MGO and UMF are two of the most common manuka honey grading systems used by beekeepers to assess and convey the quality of their produce.
Both of these systems rely on the quantities of select bioactives present in the honey. The higher the nutrients, the more authentic the honey.
MGO is short for methylglyoxal, an active natural compound that gives raw manuka honey its special antibacterial properties. The MGO grading system involves testing the honey sample for methylglyoxal.
Higher levels of methylglyoxal are an indicator of the quality of the honey. So the higher the MGO rating of your honey, the more potent it is and the better its quality.
UMF stands for the Unique Manuka Factor. It is another grading system that rates the honey based on the quantities of bioactives present in it.
Much like the MGO, the UMF system also requires checking the honey for methylglyoxal levels. But in addition to that, UMF also measures the quantities of some other manuka markers (leptosperin, NPA, DHA and HMF) that are present in the honey.
Because the UMF system gauges the quantities of multiple bioactives - among them leptosperin that can be found in no other honey in the world but manuka - it is considered an indicator of both quality and purity.
NPA stands for the non-peroxide activity in honey. The higher the non-peroxide activity, the more potent your honey insofar as its antiseptic potential is concerned.
The NPA reading of any honey is essential to calculate its UMF. In fact, UMF and NPA values are directly related. If a jar of manuka honey has an NPA of 15, it will be graded at UMF 15+
Learn more about honey grading systems here
After you’ve got your conversion right, the next step is figuring out what grade of raw manuka honey is best suited to your purpose.That’s because not all honey is made the same way. While some varieties work best as table sweeteners, others are potent enough to be applied topically. Find out how to choose the right type of manuka honey.