What is Fake Manuka and How to Tell if Your Manuka Honey is Real

fake manuka honey

Regular people and celebrities alike attribute their healthy and clear skin to manuka honey. Millions of people buy manuka honey to treat diseases and illnesses, including cancer and bacterial infections. They are clearly not using fake manuka honey. We will explain why this makes a difference later.

Honey in general has been used as both a food and a medicine for thousands of years. When honey is in its raw and unprocessed state, it feature plenty of antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.

When we talk about manuka honey, we are speaking about an especially effective medicinal honey. This unique honey comes from the manuka bush growing primarily in New Zealand. It is related to the tea tree, from which well-known medicinal tee tree oil comes from.

Science Proves the Medicinal Value of Manuka Honey

The indigenous Maori tribes of New Zealand have been using manuka honey for its medicinal properties for a longtime. However, it took until the 1990s for the rest of the world to catch up on their understanding that manuka honey is a medicine. Researchers at Waikato University in New Zealand identified medicinal properties in manuka honey, which helped skyrocket manuka honey into the height of popularity.
honey bee on yellow flower

More recently, there was a cancer study spanning five years which uncovered that manuka honey has the remarkable ability to inhibit tumor growth. This paved the way for manuka honey to be used to treat cancer, which is an exceptional ability for anything to have.

manuka honey in bowl

You would think that this would be enough medicinal power for a little bit of honey, yet there’s more. Manuka honey can kill bacteria. This even includes strains resistant to antibiotics! There are over 250 strains of bacteria which manuka honey can fight off, including the particularly harsh MRSA and MSSA bacterias (staph infections).

How This Honey Differs

There are antioxidants, enzymes, flavonoids, and other good things in all varieties of honey, all being medicinal in nature.However, manuka honey has something no other honey in the world has, and it’s called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).

Every batch of authentic manuka honey coming from New Zealand is tested for its UMF. Depending on how high its UMF is, the price will be different. The higher the UMF, the higher the price.

You want a manuka honey with a UMF rating 10 or more if you want to use manuka honey for medicinal purposes. When manuka honey is rated as being at a 10 or higher, it is allowed to be called “active manuka honey.”

However, there’s a catch.

There is no legal way to stop a company manufacturing manuka honey to include the words “active” or “UMF 10+” on their products when they do not, in fact, have UMF at 10 or more.

This is what makes the search for manuka honey more difficult if you don’t do your research.

Fake Manuka and Fiercely Violent Competition

Many are already aware that the regular honey you find in most stores is adulterated and devoid of the medicinal bits that would be worth the high price of honey. Shockingly, a study discovered that 75% of all honey you find in the supermarket has been filtered so much that there is no longer any pollen. It is essentially a different product, not honey. Talk about a rude awakening!

Manuka honey itself is a massive $150 million a year industry for New Zealand. The popularity of manuka honey has exploded in recent years, leading some disingenuous bad actors to start taking the term “fierce competition” to new levels.

Land grabs are becoming commonplace in the manuka honey industry. Helicopters are rented  out by beekeepers to find the best sites for manuka hives. What’s worse is that bee hives of rival beekeepers have been burned to ground by aggressive competitors.

Things get even worse.

People are literally stealing bee hives producing manuka honey. If they can’t steal the hives, they simply poison all of the bees, killing thousands of precious honey-makers.

Manuka honey theft has become so common in the UK that this premium honey has to now be kept behind glass cases, like jewelry.

…and this is all related to real manuka honey.

On top of all of this, you need to be concerned about avoiding fake manuka honey. This is sadly unsurprising since a jar of manuka honey can be over $50 sometimes. Think that it’s crazy talk to say that there’s fake honey out there? Well, this suspicion was recently put to the test.

In New Zealand, officials looked at the production numbers. There are 1,700 tons of real manuka honey produced per year. When we break this down, it equals around 3 million jars. However, there is a massive 10,000 tons of so-called “manuka honey” sold globally every year. The obvious conclusion we have to make from this is that around 8 out of 10 jars of manuka honey are fake!

This flagrant fraud and deception has forced the New Zealand government to start looking into ways to avoid this problem, given it has the potential to bring the entire industry to its knees. If people stop believing the manuka honey they are getting is genuine and beneficial, sales will crater.

Thankfully, you can still get the real deal manuka honey, just head over to our buying guide to find out what the best and genuine manuka honey is.

How Can You Tell if Manuka Honey is Real

There is an easy and reliable way to find out whether manuka honey produced by a company is genuine or not. There are around 50 companies that have a Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association license. This means they have been thoroughly vetted to ensure they are not selling fake manuka honey. The list of real manuka honey producers can be found here.

We have to stress how important it is to look at a buying guide such as ours, particularly when buying from a marketplace like Amazon, since they are having difficulty keeping counterfeit versions of manuka honey off of their site. If you want to ensure you get medicinal manuka honey, read out reviews and analysis of the best manuka honey products available and safely buy one of them so you know you are getting the real deal.

About James 9 Articles
James is a certified researcher with an interest in horticultural method and practice. He has held interest in the field for over two decades, and has a healthy collection of the rarest species on the planet. James spends his time working with consumer protection agencies to assess the legitimacy of different products, and is one of the leading names when it comes to product testing and analysis. When he is not spending time in he lab, James enjoys listening to and making music. He has taken up talent development with various youth groups, and believes that it can be one way to change his community for the better.

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