How to identify authentic manuka honey

Authentic New Zealand Manuka Honey

So if you’ve seen my video you’ll know that there’s a lot of honey on the market that claims to be authentic New Zealand manuka honey but isn’t. 

If you haven’t already seen the video them give it a watch:

The sheer volume of honey that gets sold on the international market that claims to be authentic manuka honey swamps the actual volume of manuka honey actually produced. Clearly most product sold as manuka honey is not what the label claims.

This mislabelled honey could be heavily diluted. Or contain absolutely no manuka honey at all.

It’s quiet acceptable to sell blended honey products. Jars that contain a mix of manuka and other honeys. But the acceptable practice is to clearly label blends. If a honey blend isn’t clearly labelled as a blend then you are being deliberately misled

The NZ government sets very strict standards for export. But those standards simply don’t apply to the local market. So you can get a product labelled ‘manuka honey’ that can contain added sugar. Or it could have a fractional amount of manuka honey blended into other less valuable honeys.

There’s a lot of fake product on the international market

The New Zealand government reckons a lot of people are being ripped off. On the international market the volume of honey being sold as manuka honey is many times the volume of manuka honey that is being produced. 

In the USA large mainstream supermarkets like Trader Joe’s have been sued for selling diluted manuka honey. A number of law suits are being lodged against adulterated honey products. And the US government is resistant to calls for meaningful legal standards for honey.

Europe is saturated in counterfeit honey. German scientists have found absolutely pervasive fraud. The bad behaviour plays out in different ways: mislabelled blend, added sugars and deceptive country-of-origin labelling. There are even connections with international organised crime.

This bad behaviour is completely unfair to you 

I care about what people are putting into their bodies. The food we eat makes a huge different to our health and wellbeing. I want to people to have control over what goes into their bodies. And you can’t do that unless sellers aren’t being honest.

Here’s how to find the real deal

Is it from New Zealand?

Manuka only grows in New Zealand. Full stop.

Manuka is an indigenous species. It grows nowhere else in the world. Only honey bees in New Zealand can produce manuka honey.

So check the label for the country of origin. When product does actually come from New Zealand the producer is proud of it and wants to let you know.

Does it have a Fernmark license?

Honey stamped with Fernmark license has to be export quality. And export standards for NZ manuka honey are incredibly strong. I noted in the video that I have to do around ten lab tests – sometimes up to fifteen.

Only honeys that meet the high export standards can carry the fernmark license mark. And the authenticity of the mark can be claimed by an easy online check.

How to check for the Fernmark license

To check just look at the label. Find the Fernmark logo.
Find the number that shows under the logo.

The mark on the label should be clear, easily read and easily checked. This is what the fernmark license details look like on one of my own jars:

Fernmark licensed Forest Maker manuka honey

Go to the fernmark license search address and enter that number.

You should get a page for the brand. It should look like my one:

If the jar of manuka honey you are looking at doesn’t have the fernmark logo, or it can’t be found in the licensee search, then that honey most probably isn’t export quality manuka honey.

And if it isn’t export quality manuka honey then it could be second-grade diluted or adulterated. It isn’t the honey you are looking for.

You can check the MGO rating

The potency of manuka honey is related to it’s MGO content. I’ve written about MGO here. If the honey you are looking at on the supermarket shelf claims to be manuka and has describes it’s MGO level, then you are much more likely to be getting something authentic.

This is the MGO rating displayed on a one kilo jar of Forest Maker Honey:



Any retailer of authentic manuka honey will happily send you certified lab test results.

All jars of NZ manuka honey will have a batch code. 

Contact the company selling that honey. Ask for a copy of the certified lab tests showing that the batch is authentic manuka honey.

This is what the batch code looks like on a jar of my own manuka honey:

How to find the batch ID on honey jars

Any company labelling their product as authentic manuka honey will be very happy to send you the tests. Honey retailers that sell the real stuff go to extreme lengths to certify their products. They want to show you that you actually have the genuine article.

Anyone asking me for my lab results gets them as soon as I can reply.

Get the best

I find it frustrating that it’s so often hard tell if people buying manuka honey are getting their money’s worth. There’s a lot of product out there that simply isn’t worth the money being paid for it.

Let me know if you’ve found this quick guide useful. And if you are looking for authentic product then check out my shop.

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