MeliBio Scoops $5.7 Seed Funding To Keep The Buzz Going For Real Honey Made Without Bees

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California’s MeliBio has closed a successful seed round with $5.7 million invested for its bee-less honey made without bees led by Astanor Ventures, with some existing backers doubling down and new names coming on board. Funding will be used to scale its proprietary precision fermentation technology for manufacturing the company’s honey without bees and to build out the team. 

The company was founded to offer an alternative to commercial honey and claims to have created an identical product that won’t add to any biodiversity loss and can alleviate honey production’s impact on the climate crisis. To date, MeliBio has raised $7.2 million since its inception in 2020 and garnered worldwide attention, including being named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 best inventions of 2021.

“We are excited about MeliBio’s approach in building a next generation food technology that connects plant science and precision fermentation,” Christina Ulardic, partner at Astanor Ventures said in a statement. “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.”

Indistinguishable from conventional honey

“We know that science can produce delicious and nutritious honey, which is molecularly identical to traditional honey, at no cost to our precious bees,” Darko Mandich, MeliBio CEO and co-founder, said in a statement.

The startup’s first honey product, unveiled in October 2021, was aimed at the B2B market for use in foodservice. At the time, industry leaders failed to tell it apart from conventional honey in blind taste tests. Successful trials in restaurants followed soon after, which paved the way for production scaling and new client onboarding.

Green Queen‘s own Alessandra Franco tasted an early sample and said that MeliBio was indistinguishable from conventional honey, writing that “once you’ve tried MeliBio you can’t ever go back to any other type of vegan honey.”

MeliBio aims to target food, beverage and cosmetics companies. So far, 30 companies across the world have already signed up to be the first users of the product as a direct result.

“At MeliBio, we are here to introduce certainty in the supply chain and help companies simplify their honey sourcing, while making their honey-based formulations sustainable and delicious. Together with our clients, we can make the future of honey better, for both humans and for bees” said Mandich.

MeliBio co-founders Aaron Schaller and Darko Mandich.

Making a dent in the existing industry

MeliBio is looking to disrupt the $10 billion global honey industry fraught with challenges, riddled with ineffective supply chains, decreasing yields, quality issues and price fluctuations. MeliBio claims that its own product negates all of these issues and can be scaled to produce whatever quantity is needed. It aims to support native bees by removing them from the honey production equation, thereby protecting biodiversity and offering a simple solution to a global supply problem. The founding team’s stoic tenacity attracted initial investors to believe in the product and some to return for the seed round.

“We were glad to be the first investors into MeliBio in 2020,” Andrew D. Ive, managing general partner at Big Idea Ventures said in a statement. “We have seen the MeliBio founders deliver on their big idea of sustainable honey, transitioning from concept to full-scale production and underscoring our confidence in this great team. Their success is built on strong IP in precision fermentation and a relentless dedication to growing sustainable honey, while positively impacting pollinator diversity.”

The latest round also saw participations from Skyview Capital, XRC Labs, Collaborative Fund, Midnight Venture Partners, Alumni Ventures, Siddhi Capital, Climate Capital Collective, Red Bridge Ventures, VegCapital, HackVentures and mission driven angels from Vevolution and GlassWall Syndicate groups.

All photos by MeliBio.


  • Amy Buxton

    A long-term committed ethical vegan and formerly Green Queen's resident plant-based reporter, Amy juggles raising a family and maintaining her editorial career, while also campaigning for increased mental health awareness in the professional world. Known for her love of searing honesty, in addition to recipe developing, animal welfare and (often lacklustre) attempts at handicrafts, she’s hands-on and guided by her veganism in all aspects of life. She’s also extremely proud to be raising a next-generation vegan baby.

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