Why Is Manuka Honey So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)


Honey has a ton of health benefits and is a delicious ingredient in cooking and baking.

Many people think that honey strictly comes from flowers, but it can come from almost any kind of plant.

Manuka honey is an expensive type of honey that has a flavor and quality unlike anything else.

However, its price often keeps people from being able to buy it on a regular basis.

Here’s what you need to know about manuka honey and why it’s so expensive.

Why Is Manuka Honey So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)

1. Only Found In New Zealand

Manuka honey comes from the Leptospermum scoparium tree.

The actual word manuka is from the local Māori word for Leptospermum scoparium.

Since the tree only grows in New Zealand, it’s rare.

That’s because the tree can’t grow anywhere else.

It requires a specific type of climate found only within New Zealand.

Scientists can certainly try to clone the tree and grow it in a lab, but the quality may not be the same.

It’s also costly which only drives the price up further.

Since it can only grow in New Zealand, the honey that comes from the tree is in limited supply.

Since there isn’t much of a supply, and there’s always a lot of demand, it drives the price upwards.

2. It’s Graded For Health Benefits

Many doctors and scientists claim that honey is good for your health.

However, not all honey goes through the grading process to determine how healthy it is.

Manuka honey does.

Its honey has such plentiful health benefits that it actually goes through a grading and classification process.

Each jar of honey goes to a lab where they test its various properties.

They’re looking for how strong the honey is to determine how potent the health benefits are going to be.

The strength of the honey stems from its MGO levels.

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association gives each jar of honey a grading number and its associated MGO number.

The larger the MGO number is, the stronger the honey, and the more potent its health benefits.

Besides its grading, manuka honey also goes through a classification process.

The New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Primary Industries determines the class of each jar of honey.

The first classification is Multifloral Manuka Honey.

If a jar of honey receives this classification, then it means it doesn’t have that much methylglyoxal in it.

Its MGO levels are low.

As a result, the jar is cheaper.

The second classification is Monofloral Manuka Honey.

If a jar of honey receives this classification, then it means it has a high MGO level.

There’s a lot of methylglyoxal present in its mixture.

Since it has a high MGO level, then it’s considered strong honey.

Its health benefits are potent, but it’s also expensive.

The extensive testing process manuka honey goes through adds a lot of cost to its final price.

The consumer is going to have to make up for the difference.

They are essentially paying the wages of the scientists and ministers who grade and classify the honey.

3. Helicopter Costs

The location of where the manuka trees grow is difficult to reach.

They’re located at high altitudes.

The easiest way to reach them is by helicopter.

Since beekeepers need to check on the bees often, they have to use the helicopters just as often.

That can cost a lot of money.

Helicopters aren’t cheap.

Keeping them maintained and fueled up can cost a significant amount of money over time.

Those are costs that determine the price of manuka honey.

Since other types of honey can be grown on a farm, at most, consumers need to pay for minimal upkeep.

Manuka honey requires far more.

4. Small Window For Harvesting

One of the biggest reasons manuka honey is expensive is that it has small harvestable windows.

In every season the tree blooms, harvesters could have a window that is as small as two weeks and as long as eight weeks to harvest the honey.

Outside of that window, the honey either isn’t ready or it isn’t good.

Because it has such a small window for harvesting, only a small amount is ever harvested.

There’s a shortage of manuka honey from the very start.

That small window is even more important if there were certain factors present that may have prevented the tree from blooming.

Harvesters may not know if the tree will bloom and give honey until the window of opportunity is over.

There are several factors that can influence whether the tree will bloom or not.

Anything can shorten the window and provide even less honey than harvesters originally thought there would be.

5. Weather Conditions

Many consider manuka honey to be liquid gold.

That’s because it’s so difficult to get your hands on it.

One factor that has a significant influence on how much honey is harvestable each season is the weather.

The trees are vulnerable throughout the season.

They’re even vulnerable right up to the point in which beekeepers remove the honey.

Cold weather is one of the most present dangers for manuka trees.

Since they’re at a high altitude, it’s easy for the temperatures to become too cold.

If it is too chilly, then the tree won’t bloom, and the bees can’t pollinate it for honey.

Another major weather factor is strong winds.

Since manuka trees grow in high elevations, they’re subject to strong winds.

There’s nothing to prevent the wind from damaging them.

Strong winds can rip off their blooms before the bees can pollinate them.

These winds also keep the bees from being able to fly around.

If any of these weather conditions is present for a long time, then it can completely ruin a harvest.

That drives up the scarcity and price of manuka honey.

6. Bee Health

The trees aren’t the only major part of the equation for the creation of manuka honey.

Bees are integral.

They pollinate the tree and make honey from their ventures.

The problem is that bees can become ill.

Not all species of bees can handle the high altitude.

Even the temperatures can affect how well the bee performs.

Bees also become ill from that.

In certain species of bees, if the queen dies, then the entire hive dies.

If she becomes ill, then the other bees will become ill.

Without bees, there won’t be any honey.

Beekeepers work hard to bring bees up to the trees and monitor their health.

If a new queen needs to join the hive or if the bees need medical attention, then they’ll provide care to them.

It also costs money to keep the bees healthy.

Beekeepers need payment and equipment with which to work.

Those costs can add up.

If the bees aren’t able to make honey for that season, then it increases the rarity of manuka honey.

Both instances drive up the cost of manuka honey and make it expensive.

7. UMF Grading Costs

If someone wants a UMF-graded jar of honey, then they can expect to pay a high cost.

These jars of honey are among the most expensive.

That’s because the UMFHA checks each jar submitted to them for the purity and quality of the honey.

Once it’s submitted, the organization runs a series of tests on certain properties of the honey.

Then they’ll grade the honey according to the findings of their research.

Each jar will have its own UMF logo and number.

The higher the number on the jar, the purer the honey is.

Purer honey means better health benefits.

The cost of all the tests and the quality of the honey are reflected in the price.

It’s something that the consumer pays for when they buy a high-quality jar of honey.

The higher numbered jars are the most expensive of the lot.

8. Scarcity

Besides weather conditions, there’s a small number of manuka trees as it is.

Every year, manuka trees produce around 2,800 tons of manuka honey.

That’s compared to 1.9 million tons of honey from everything else.

Since there are only 2,800 tons to go around, that makes manuka honey incredibly scarce.

Despite its scarcity, the demand for manuka honey is at an all-time high.

With more people trying to get their hands on it, suppliers are able to raise their prices.

The price increases with the quality of honey, as well, because the higher quality is even rarer than common or low-grade manuka honey.

One of the rarest jars of manuka honey is a jar labeled with Manuka Honey 24+.

If you can get your hands on a quality that high, then you could be sitting on a gold mine.

9. Several Industries Want It

If regular buyers weren’t enough, several other markets are wanting to get their hands on manuka honey.

You won’t find manuka honey at just any grocery store.

Restaurants are among the first in line to get their hands on manuka honey.

They’ll pay a substantial amount of money to be able to include it in their dishes.

Doing so will allow them to create rare dishes that can sell for even more money.

Besides restaurants, the beauty industry is also interested in manuka honey.

Manuka honey that has a UMF rating of 10+ is ideal for topical use.

They use honey to make various creams, ointments, and powders that can improve the health of one’s skin.

The better the quality of the honey, the more potent the results in the cream.

The beauty industry isn’t afraid to spend tons of money on high-quality honey either.

With the restaurant and beauty industries taking as much honey as they can afford, that leaves little for independent buyers.

At most, independent buyers may be able to find some of the lower-quality jars of manuka honey available.

If they want anything higher than that, then they’re going to need to have the budget to afford it.

10. Exportation Fees And Shipping Costs

Since manuka honey comes all the way from New Zealand, it has to pass through several ports and checkpoints before it reaches the United States.

Exporting food costs money.

Even though honey can last for an extended amount of time, there’s still a chance it can spoil or come into contact with spoiled or toxic food.

Protective measures are in place to keep the honey preserved and healthy.

Those measures cost money.

That helps drive up the price of manuka honey.

It’s going to be cheaper inside of New Zealand than it is anywhere else in the world.

Another factor that drives up the price is shipping costs.

Once the honey reaches the United States, it has to pass over land or through the air to its destinations.

At each point, it’s going to need to pass through other checkpoints and face shipping fees.

The further you are from the source of manuka honey, the more expensive it becomes.

How To Save Money On Manuka Honey

Manuka honey will always be expensive, but there are a few ways you can soften the blow to your wallet.

Here are a few tips you can use to save money on manuka honey.

1. Buy Low-Grade

The cheapest end of manuka honey is going to include jars of honey that are low-grade.

You’ll want to look for low UMF numbers.

Keep an eye on MGO levels, too.

Those need to be low if you want to buy a cheaper product.

It won’t be the purest honey, but it’s still some of the best honey on the market.

Try to keep the UMF number around 5.

That’s manuka honey that’s suitable for consumption.

2. Look For Sales

You’ll rarely find manuka honey on sale, but there are times when grocery stores will run a sale and include it.

Your chances increase during the holidays.

It’s also worth it to save up on any coupons or rewards that you receive from the store to bring down the price further.

3. Buy From The Source

If you want to buy manuka honey as cheaply as possible, then you need to go to the source.

Take an annual trip to New Zealand and buy honey in bulk.

Provided you can get it through customs or find some other way to ship it home, you’ll be able to save yourself a few dollars.

If you’re a real manuka honey aficionado, then you may want to consider buying and planting your own manuka trees.

It could become a lucrative business.

What Does The UMFHA Test For In Manuka Honey?

There are a few properties that the UMFHA tests for to determine the honey’s grade.

If the properties test well, then the jar of honey receives a high UMF number.

If the properties aren’t as present, then the jar of honey will receive a lower UMF number.

Here are the properties that the UMFHA test for in manuka honey.

1. Leptosperin

A lot of people try to pass off something else as manuka honey.

It’s an easy way to make a lot of money.

However, it’s also easy to tell if the honey is authentic or fake.

The UMFHA will test for a genetic marker known as leptosperin.

This is a genetic factor that only exists in the manuka tree.

If the honey has this genetic marker, then the honey is authentic.

If it doesn’t, then it’s a fake.

2. Methylglyoxal

Methylglyoxal is better known as MGO.

This is an antibacterial component of manuka honey that gives its health benefits.

The more MGO that a jar of honey has, the more potent its health benefits.

That means manufacturers are able to sell it at a higher price.

The beauty industry, in particular, has an interest in jars of honey that contain high MGO levels.

You can expect jars of honey with high MGO levels to be more expensive than those with low MGO levels.

3. DHA

Finally, they also test for DHA.

DHA is a concentrated amount of MGO.

The UMFHA will measure the DHA to determine how strong the levels of MGO in the jar of honey are.

If the DHA is high, then they know that the honey is strong and of a higher quality.

The UMFHA won’t only test jars that sellers submit to them either.

They’ll also test jars of honey on retail shelves to ensure they’re authentic.

It helps ensure that consumers aren’t ripped off or sold cheap manuka honey at high prices.

Is Buying Manuka Honey Worth It?

If you’re buying manuka honey for its health benefits, then it may be worth it.

Scientists have researched manuka honey and found that it does contain certain properties that can improve your health.

In particular, it’s been able to help treat infected wounds.

The idea of rubbing expensive honey on your wound might frighten you, but

it can help alleviate the pain of burns and even help heal the skin.

Other skin problems like eczema and certain types of rashes improve after using health products that contain manuka honey.

When consumed, manuka honey can help reduce plaque build-up in your teeth.

As a result, it helps slow or prevent the spread of gingivitis.

That can improve your oral health, give you better-smelling breath, and help you keep your teeth long term.

Those who suffer from sinus infections have also seen their symptoms clear up after consuming manuka honey.

Finally, some studies indicate that manuka honey can slow or inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Health-wise, manuka honey can be well worth your money.

If you want to taste pure honey, then it may be worth it a few times, but you’re better off with regular honey if you’re concerned about your budget.


Manuka honey is expensive because it’s so rare in the world.

It only grows in one place in the world, and it’s subject to poor weather conditions that can impede its bloom.

Because manuka honey has such potent health benefits, both the beauty industry and the restaurant industry are vying for it.

That only increases the scarcity of manuka honey for individual buyers.

The reasons above and the tips included can help you determine whether manuka honey is worth the higher price or not.

Use the provided tips to help you save a little more on your purchase of manuka honey.


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