MeliBio, the world’s first company making real honey without bees, announces a $5.7 million seed funding raise to commercialize its first line of bee-free honey. The seed round, led by Astanor Ventures, brings the startup’s total funding to $7.2 million to date.
The raise follows a successful test launch of MeliBio’s honey in four New York City restaurants and at one CPG company, and the startup will now begin scaling its operations and manufacturing. More than 30 companies around the world have already signed on to try its novel honey, MelioBio says.
Giving bees a break
Founded in 2020 by Darko Mandich and Aaron Schaller, PhD., MeliBio uses precision fermentation and plant science to create its proprietary honey products. The brand conducted a blind industry taste test last October, where testers confirmed its honey tasted identical to traditional bee-derived honey.
Making this product without bees is critical, MeliBio says, because of the serious challenges facing the $10 billion global honey industry, including broken supply chains, price volatility, lower yields, and issues concerning quality control. The company hopes to supply its ingredient to food, beverage and cosmetics brands seeking to create more sustainable and vegan-friendly honey products.
In addition to Astanor Ventures, the seed round included participation from existing investors Big Idea Ventures and 18 Ventures, as well as over a dozen new investors including Skyview Capital, XRC Labs, Collaborative Fund, and Siddhi Capital.
“We are excited about MeliBio’s approach in building a next generation food technology that connects plant science and precision fermentation” says Christina Ulardic, Partner at Astanor Ventures. “Darko and Aaron are passionate about taking pressure off the commercial honey bee supply chain and consequently improving pollinator diversity. We are quite impressed by their first product.”
“Sustainable and delicious”
Darko Mandich, CEO & Co-Founder of MeliBio, said, “We know that science can produce delicious and nutritious honey, which is molecularly identical to traditional honey, at no cost to our precious bees…Together with our clients, we can make the future of honey better, for both humans and for bees.”