In the natural world, not all honeys are equal. People have long known that Manuka Honey contains special properties, but it wasn’t until scientific research began in the 1980s that we gained an understanding of those properties and their beneficial uses. This article illustrates the special qualities of Manuka Honey to answer the question, why is Manuka Honey so expensive?

What makes Manuka Honey so special?

Like regular honey, Manuka Honey is made entirely by bees. Bees forage nectar from the flowers of certain Leptospermum species; manuka trees (colloq. jelly bush). Bees convert this nectar to honey in the hive. As far as bees are concerned, the process is exactly the same as for any other flowers they forage. They are only interested in providing food for the colony.

The difference in Manuka Honey comes from the special properties present in Leptospermum nectar.

The unique components of Manuka Honey

Manuka nectar naturally contains high levels of dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This naturally converts to methylglyoxal (MGO) when bees make honey from the nectar. Scientific research carried out in Germany identified methylglyoxal as the particular bioactive compound with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxident, and healing properties.

Manuka Honey strength is measured by the level of active MGO present, recorded as milligrams per kilo. For example, highly active Manuka Honey MGO 900+ contains at least 900mg of MGO per kilogram.

MGO is not the only beneficial component of Manuka Honey, but it is the most significant. Other beneficial components of Manuka Honey include:

  • dihydroxyacetone (DHA)
  • B vitamins
  • amino acids
  • minerals (zinc, calcium, copper, iron)
  • hydrogen peroxide

Real Manuka Honey, or fake?

Premium products are often subject to unscrupulous imitation, and Manuka Honey is no exception. Past government records have identified that significantly more “Manuka Honey” has been sold worldwide than has been produced in Australia and New Zealand, so how can you tell that the honey you buy is the real deal?

Product of…

Manuka trees of the species that produce DHA (and therefore MGO) are indigenous to Australia and New Zealand. Australia has over 80 species of Leptospermum, of which up to 12 are known to have bioactive properties. Scientists continue to research Australia’s exclusive species to discover which others produce high levels of MGO. New Zealand has only one species of Leptospermum; Leptospermum Scoparium, which is also native to Australia.

Only specific species of Leptospermum produce DHA, and there are many others that don’t. For example, Tea Tree is a species of Leptospermum that does not produce DHA to active levels, but you may see its honey fraudulently marketed as Manuka.

The Leptospermum manukas that produce DHA are found only in Australia and New Zealand. If your Manuka Honey is “product of” anywhere else, it is unlikely to be the premium product you hoped.


Real Manuka Honey is graded for its methylglyoxal content. In Australia, the grade is clearly shown as MGO. New Zealand uses a system called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), which looks at a combination of factors.

Active Manuka Honey begins at MGO 30. Anything with an MGO content below that is not active and can only be regarded as inactive, or low activity honey.

MGO levels can vary in concentration. The higher the level of MGO, the more active – and therefore premium – the honey is. Higher concentrations of MGO increase the honey’s potential to be used for medicinal purposes. The following is a guide to the strengths and uses:

  • MGO 900+ (UMF 21) – Very high antibacterial activity. Can be used directly on wounds; assists with Golden Staph infections, acne, and dental hygiene. Superior healing properties. Can be particularly useful when consumed to help fight cold & flu symptoms. It can also be very beneficial for gastrointestinal problems.
  • MGO 500+ (UMF 15) – High anti-bacterial and healing properties; used for medicinal purposes and dressing wounds. Assists with ulcers, and inflammatory conditions.
  • MGO 100+ (UMF 6) – A perfect everyday consumer honey to maintain health. 1-2 tablespoons a day assists with immunity and wellbeing.
  • MGO 30+ – The lowest active Manuka Honey, suitable for everyday consumer use.

Active Manuka Honey can have MGO levels in excess of 1500mg/kg, but that is incredibly rare. Manuka Honey with that level of MGO would be very expensive indeed.

Is your Manuka Honey certified?

At AB’s Honey all our Manuka Honey is independently laboratory tested to determine methylglyoxal levels. A Certificate of Analysis can be provided for every batch you order so that you can resell, export, or use it as a food or skincare ingredient with confidence. We only sell pure, raw, 100% Australian Manuka Honey, with certified MGO levels.

Which industries buy Manuka Honey?

As more research is conducted and more remarkable properties become known, more businesses are realising the potential of Manuka Honey. AB’s Honey is a leading supplier of quality Australian Manuka Honey to retailers, wholesalers, exporters, and those who work in health and beauty industries.

Resellers and retailers

There is growing consumer demand for active and medicinal Manuka Honey. You can find Manuka Honey in pharmacies and health food stores.

Skincare and cosmetics

The antibacterial and healing properties of Manuka Honey make it increasingly desirable as an ingredient in skincare and cosmetics. Private label skincare producers are choosing Manuka as their premium active ingredient to give them an edge over their competitors.

Healthcare practitioners

Healthcare practitioners including doctors, naturopaths, and clinicians recognise the science behind Manuka Honey’s health and healing properties. Manuka Honey is increasingly being sought as an alternative and supplementary treatment for many conditions.

The international demand for Australian Manuka Honey

Australian Manuka Honey is some of the finest you can buy. The clean, natural environment ensures a continuous supply of high-quality active manuka honey prized throughout the world.

Real Manuka Honey is only produced in Australia and New Zealand. Australia has the most species of manuka tree and the perfect environment for Manuka Honey production. International consumers increasingly seek the benefits of real Manuka Honey and demand for export is high.

A premium honey product like no other

So why is Manuka Honey so expensive?

  • Manuka Honey is only produced by certain species of Leptospermum in a limited geographical area
  • Manuka Honey must undergo independent laboratory testing to determine MGO concentration
  • MGO levels determine the bioactive properties of Manuka and its practical and medicinal uses. The higher the level, the broader its range of applications
  • An exceptionally high presence of MGO is rare, commanding a premium price
  • Manuka Honey has scientifically proven benefits and applications

Australian Manuka Honey Suppliers

As leading suppliers of quality Australian Manuka Honey, AB’s Honey supplies wholesale and bulk Manuka Honey to businesses, manufacturers, retailers, and exporters both nationally and internationally. We welcome your enquiry about wholesale Manuka Honey for your business. Please contact us to find out more.

AB’s Honey is a member of the Australian Manuka Honey Association.

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