MeliBio, a start-up that produces bee-free, vegan honey, has raked in $5.7 million in funding.
Entrepreneurs Darko Mandich and Aaron Schaller founded MeliBio in an effort to shake up the $10 billion global honey industry, which is linked to a host of animal welfare and environmental implications.
Speaking to Plant Based News, Mandich explained that the MeliBio aims to make the honey industry sustainable “by finally giving bees a break.” The team expects the vegan alternative to be used as an ingredient across various sectors, including food, beverage, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
Using microbial fermentation technology, MeliBio produces honey that has the same molecular makeup, taste, texture, and viscosity as conventional honey – all without using any bees in the process.
In a recent industry blind taste test, MeliBio’s honey was found to be indistinguishable from traditional honey, prompting over 30 companies around the world to sign up to be the first users of the product.
Why formulate honey alternatives?
The native bee population is rapidly declining around the world, and MeliBio’s founders want to address the impact that honeybees have on biodiversity.
Mandich said, “Reports are showing that the 20,000 wild and native bee species are threatened by commercial bee farming.”
This is largely due to honeybees competing for their food – as honey production increases, the greater the threat to native species. That’s in addition to the challenges the bees are already encountering, such as pesticides, habitat loss, and the climate crisis.
Nutritious vegan honey
Recognizing the challenges that the bee population are facing, Mandich explained, “We at MeliBio believe that our proprietary approach in connecting nature and science can empower us to make delicious and nutritious honey without interfering with our precious bees.”
The start-up’s bee-free honey invention was previously named TIME’s Best Inventions 2021 and addresses key UN Sustainable Development Goals. MeliBio’s funding up to date has now reached $7.2M.