Why Manuka Honey is So Expensive

Have you been down the honey aisle in the grocery store recently? If so, more than likely you did not see Manuka honey on the shelf. It is pricey, and if you want to find this honey, it is only for sale in a few places. You can look online, you can go to the health food store, or you can go to New Zealand. Why will you find it in New Zealand? You find it there because that is where the trees are which produce this honey. That is why Manuka honey is so expensive.

Honey and Helicopters

Manuka honey has unique properties, compared to other honeys grown world-wide. The pollen for this honey comes from the New Zealand Leptospermum Scoparium tree.

This tree typically ranges from 7 to 16 feet tall, but sometimes it grows as high as 49 feet. The trees grow wild, in the high altitude of the country’s farmland. Frequently the honey is harvested by helicopter.

The word Manuka is the indigenous Maoir word for the Leptospermum Scoparium tree. The indigenous Maori revered it for its most significant use as a medicinal plant. Bees produce Manuka honey from the pollen of the flower. The honey is dark cream or brown in color, with an earthy flavor.

Growing Conditions Affect Quality

The flowers bloom between 2 to 8 weeks per year, depending on seasonal weather conditions.

From year to year there are variations in the weather. Fertile soil, plant species, the health of the bees, low temperatures, and high winds all affect the quality of the Manuka nectar. The pH and mineral levels of the soil are also factors.

Specialized bee-keepers work quickly and efficiently to collect the honey. They want to create as little stress as possible for the bees.

New Zealand Honey Certification

All Manuka honey must be tested before it is exported from the country. It must meet certain specific standards, which adds to the cost of the honey. This is one reason why this honey is so expensive.

The two main grading systems that they use in New Zealand to grade Manuka honey are MGO and UMF.

MGO (Methylglyoxal)

According to research, there are antibacterial benefits in Manuka honey because of the ingredient Methylgloxal (MGO) that naturally exists in this honey.

As a rule, the higher the MGO, the better the purity and quality of the honey will be, and the higher the MGO rating.

The MGO grading system is used to measure the strength of the honey.

UMF (Unique Manuka Factor)

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association manages the UMF trademark. The presence of unique signature compounds – Leptosperin, DHA, and MGO – determines the quality of the honey. The higher the quantity of these unique signature compounds, the better the purity and quality of the honey will be. The higher quality honey will receive a higher UMF rating.

Monofloral and Multifloral

There are other classifications as well for the honey. Under New Zealand law Monofloral and Multifloral are two more classifications.

Monofloral Honey is produced by bees who collect nectar from the Manuka bush itself. It comes from the most remote regions of New Zealand and is gathered from the manuka bush exclusively. It has the highest MGO and is the most expensive of the honeys.

This honey is held to stricter standards than Multifloral Honey. It must meet two naturally occurring markers when the pollen test is performed.

Some batches of Monofloral Manuka Honey which come from the most remote regions of New Zealand, can have an MGO as high as 840.

The Multifloral Honey label means that the bees visit both the Manuka bush and other flowers. It is good for everyday use. The MGO can be as low as 30. Multifloral Honey is not as expensive as Monofloral Honey.

As a rule of thumb, anything over 263 MGO or 10 UMF is considered therapeutic or medicinal grade honey.

Antimicrobial Strength

Scientists typically agree that the MGO is the best way to determine a honey’s antimicrobial/bacteria killing strength. The grading system typically ranges from 30 MGO to 840 MGO. The greater the number, the stronger the antimicrobial activity.  

The best Manuka honey will always be the one with the highest grade. It should have the most antibacterial properties and the highest potential for health benefits.

How you plan on using the honey determines which grade of honey you will want to purchase. If you want to use it as a face mask or just to sweeten your tea, you may not require the most expensive purchase.

MGOUMFHow It Can Be Used
835+Lower level. Excellent nutritional supplement.
26310+Medium level. Helps maintain good health.
51415+High UMF. Good antibacterial properties.
82920+Very high UMF. Superior antibacterial properties.

Therapeutic Manuka Honey Uses

What health benefits are associated with Manuka honey? Some times the antibacterial nature of the honey is the most significant factor. Some instances in which you may like a higher level of antibacterial benefit could be:

  • If you are fighting a cold or infection.
  • To assist in healing a burn or a wound.
  • For improvement of colon health or digestion.
  • Skin care as a treatment for acne, hives, and eczema.


What does it taste like?

Some describe Manuka honey’s taste as being “earthy” others call it “strong and slightly bitter”. Some said they would use it for their skin, but would rather not use it as food because of its “strong flavor.” Some people prefer its flavor! It does have its own unique flavor!

In New Zealand, Manuka honey has been used medicinally for many years. Now it is being exported worldwide.

Why Manuka Honey is so Expensive

As we mentioned, the honey found in the most remote places in New Zealand, with the highest MGO, is going to have the highest price tag. As a rule, the higher the UMF or the MGO rating, the more expensive the honey.

What Makes Manuka Honey Special in the First Place?

All honey has antibacterial properties because it contains hydrogen peroxide. Most honey also contains MGO, but in low quantities. What makes Manuka honey so special is the unusually high concentrations of MGO.

There are many health claims for Manuka honey’s unique properties. Some tout its use as a cancer cure, some as a means of lowering blood cholesterol, or purifying skin. The health claims abound. Some may be useful and some overblown.  

In 1981, Dr Peter Molan, a university professor of biochemistry in New Zealand, researched the health benefits of Manuka honey.

There are claims that it relieves digestive ailments, such as acid reflux, fungal infections, and upper respiratory issues like sinusitis, allergies, and sore throats. It boosts the immune system and is antibacterial in nature to help fight infection.

Astonishing Facts About Manuka Honey!

Manuka Honey Fights Superbugs.

Dr. Dee Carter from the University of Sydney’s School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences noted that antibiotics have a short shelf life. The bacteria they attack become resistant to the antibiotic, making them useless over time.

A report published int the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, claimed that Manuka honey killed almost every bacterium and pathogen it was tested on. Unlike other antibiotics, none of the bugs tested were able to survive the honey treatment.

Do Nutritionists Agree with These Health Claims?

The remarkable characteristic of Manuka therapeutic grade honey is its usefulness in managing and healing wounds.

Nutritionists do not always agree. However, many tend to agree with the health claims associated with Manuka honey, as it relates to its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

What to Look for When Purchasing Manuka Honey

  • The honey label indicates it was packaged and labeled in New Zealand.
  • It must indicate its lot or batch, and “rating number”.
  • The label should say “honey” and not an alternative.
  • The label should include the address of the manufacturer, packer, or vendor.
  • Look for “UMF” trademark.
  • The container must include nutritional information according to standards of the New Zealand government.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Risk of allergic reactions, especially among people who are allergic to bees.
  • Do not give Manuka honey, or any honey to babies under 12 months old.
  • Large amounts of Manuka honey could increase blood sugar levels. Diabetics should use this with care.

Please Leave a Comment!

I would love to hear from you, have you ever used Manuka honey. If so, where did you buy it, from a health food store, or online? What is your opinion about its flavor? Were you ever in New Zealand?

Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.

10 thoughts on “Why Manuka Honey is So Expensive”

  1. Wow! Our nature is really amazing and wonderful. It is my first time hearing about a Manuka Honey. Very informative article, thank you so much it makes me appreciate our nature even more. That’s why it is really important to take care of it. It is better to have an insight into alternative ways to cure any bad things. No wonder it is very expensive. 

    • Hi, thanks for stopping by with a comment! The indigenous Maori people from New Zealand have used Manuka honey for years. The most significant use for them is as a medicinal plant.
      It has just been in modern times that it has been exported. The highest grade of UMF and MGO Manuka honey is used medically in bandages to heal wounds. Lesser grades of are also beneficial for their antibacterial benefits. You can usually find it locally in a health food store, or by going online.

  2. I see the reasons why manuka honey is so expensive now, I didn’t know all this information like it is coming from the Leptospermum Scoparium tree and that it gets harvested by helicopters, so cool!

    As I really do like the earthly flavor and the darker color, I will keep looking for it and will buy it online from now on (nowhere to be found in my local store anymore). Thanks!

    • Hi Lizzy, thanks for stopping by with a comment! I first heard of Manuka honey many years ago, on a TV program. I learned of its antibacterial properties and now think of the many applications it could have. Years ago my grandfather had bad ulcers on the back of his legs, and I wonder if the medical grade bandages would have helped his legs heal.

      The New Zealand label, the MGO grading system, and the UMF trademark help you know if you are getting the real deal and not a substitute variety. 

  3. Honey is one of those natural wonders that are so good, and so good for you. I have never heard of Manuka honey but it is definitely something on my radar now. I am always looking for new healthy products and I really want to try this honey. When you say it is expensive, how much would this actually cost in American dollars?

    • Hi AL, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. As far as the price goes, it depends on a number of things. Most importantly it depends on the grade of honey that you are purchasing.

      I opened “Manuka Honey” on Walmart’s website. On the first page, their prices go up to $79.72 for Monofloral honey. and 12 Manuka bandages for $5.96. It depends on the UMF and MGO of the honey itself.

      Also look for a label that says it is packaged in New Zealand. There are other suppliers, but I would personally want my honey to come from New Zealand. 

  4. Good day. Thanks for such a wonderful article on why makuna honey is so expensive. Honestly I above never heard of the makuna honey before. This is my first time and I must say it is really expensive. But judging from all you have written, I think it is worth the price.

    • Hi Amot, thanks for stopping by with a comment. The first time I heard of Manuka honey was on a Dr. Oz show. As I recall he said they always had some in the house when he was growing up as a boy. Looking online, I saw Manuka bandages and many different grades of this honey. The price varies according to the MGO grade and/or the UMF factor. The higher the grade, the more valuable the honey. 

  5. I learned several interesting things about manuka honey from this post, including that the honey is normally harvested by helicopter. That could certainly be one of the main reasons why manuka honey is so expensive, compared to other honeys. I will be looking on the labels more closely in future to see if the honey is monofloral or multifloral. Thank you for a very educational post. 

    • Hi LineCowley, Nice to have you explore my website! If you wanted to go to New Zealand to look for Manuka honey, you would find it in many places. In order to be exported, it must go through rigorous testing to be labeled as a high grade – GMO, and to receive the UMF trademark managed by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association. Those things are all related to the cost of producing the honey. The helicopter is also part of the equation. The short flowering period of the plant, and variable weather also influence the price of the honey.


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