What's all the buzz about Manuka Honey?

In the past year, many health-conscious foodies have dipped into the world of Manuka, with a 24% increase in searches online for “Manuka Honey”. But why is it gaining popularity, what's the difference, and why is it so expensive?
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What is the difference between Manuka and regular honey?

Rowse Honey’s Marketing Director, Kirstie Jamieson, says, “Manuka honey is made by bees foraging on Manuka flowers (Leptospermum Scoparium, to get technical) found in the North and South Islands of New Zealand (along with Tasmania and Australia). Manuka honey is special because the flower only blooms for a few weeks a year, making supply limited and demand high.

Manuka honey isn’t like other kinds of honey because of its unique characteristics, one of which is the compound MGO (methylglyoxal), which isn’t found in any other honey. As it’s unique to Manuka, the level of MGO in the honey indicates its level of purity. The higher the MGO rating, the purer the Manuka.

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Manuka flowers in New ZealandManuka flowers in New Zealand
Manuka flowers in New Zealand

It is encouraging to see people eager to learn more about Manuka. This also includes potential new beekeepers, who through Rowse’s Bee a Bee Farmer apprenticeship scheme with the Bee Farmers Association, visit New Zealand to delve into the Manuka honey journey.”

Why are more people now interested in Manuka?

Kirstie suggests, “Whilst there aren’t any officially approved health claims for Manuka honey in the UK, owing to its unique properties, there are many perceived health benefits which have been widely published, such as…

  • Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties as well as being a support to gut health and digestive problems.
  • Manuka also has soothing properties that can help with coughs and colds. Public Health England recommends honey as the first defence for a cough."

In 1981, Professor Molan, known as “the father of Manuka”, began to investigate the antiseptic properties of Manuka honey. His research identified that Manuka honey has significant non-peroxide antimicrobial activity. He went on to establish a grading system, known as the "Molan Gold Standard", for the quality of Manuka honey based on the honey's methylglyoxal (MGO) content.

Dr Molan* advised, ‘It is safest for consumers to check that the honey they are considering buying states the MGO content. Beware of products on the market stating low levels of MGO (e.g., MGO 80 and below), as these will be a blend of manuka honey with other honey'.

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What is the optimum time of day to take manuka honey?

While there is no ‘right time’ to consume Manuka, Kirstie shares that “many consumers start their day with one to two teaspoons for a daily boost; it’s also great added to your breakfast smoothie or greens powder.

With its soothing properties, having a teaspoon before bed or in a hot drink could help ease coughs and colds. "At Rowse, we’ve launched a first-to-market 100+ MGO squeezy Manuka, to make it even more convenient to add to your morning porridge.”

Why is Manuka honey expensive?

Kirstie shares, “UK consumers spend around £19 million on Manuka each year with prices for a jar of Manukastarting at £5 and reaching as much as £150 for a 250g jar. Manuka honey is considerably more expensive due to the unique properties of the compound MGO. It’s in high demand and limited supply.

However, not all Manuka is created equal, and there are some misleading claims out there. The label might not always make it clear what kind of Manuka you’re getting, so spotting the proper stuff can be difficult. Some Manukamight be labelled as ‘multifloral’, meaning it’s a blend of Manuka combined with other types of honey, rather than pure Manuka – ‘monofloral’

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One of the biggest concerns surrounding Manuka honey is the lack of regulations and the presence of inauthentic products. So, Rowse Honey’s strict testing guarantees you only get the best authentic Monofloral Manuka in every single jar. We test all our Manuka honey three times: before it leaves New Zealand, when it arrives in the UK, and once it’s in jars in the UK."

Have you tried Manuka yet? Experts recommend selecting Manuka, which is clearly labelled as Monofloral and has an MGO rating of 100 and above, to ensure you are getting authentic Manuka honey and guaranteed potency.

*Dr Peter Molan - How to Find Genuine Manuka Honey (naturalsouth.com)

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