Are Consumers Ready For Bee-Free Honey? MeliBio Debuts Mellody To ‘Help Restore Ecological Harmony’
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Popular Bay Area foodtech MeliBio has released Mellody, its first bee-free commercial honey product.
MeliBio has been promoting its bee-free tech for several years, keeping ingredients and technology under wraps. At last week’s Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, Calif., MeliBio debuted Mellody, its first product, to a crowd of more than 65,000 attendees.
While other companies have launched bee-free honey products made from ingredients like apples and lemons, Mellody claims to mimic the signature taste and performance of honey from bees while offering consumers a more sustainable and ethical product.
The ingredients label on the new product shows fructose, glucose, and a range of plant extracts including sumac, fava d’anta, Indian trumpet flower, green coffee bean, chamomile, and seaberry, among other ingredients.
Mellody is launching first in food service accounts, MeliBio says. The product is already available at Baia in San Francisco, Little Choc Apothecary in New York City, and Motel Fried Chicken in Philadelphia.
“By providing restaurants and consumers with a delicious and sustainable alternative, we hope to help restore ecological harmony and make room for native pollinators,” Darko Mandich, CEO and co-founder of MeliBio, said in a statement.
According to Nielsen data, 2022 saw honey sales reach $920 million with double-digit dollar growth in the latest year. But commercial honey production faces a number of threats.
“Many people are unaware of the issues surrounding commercial honey production and its impact on the 4,000 [species of] native bees in the U.S.,” Mandich said.
Last year, the USDA reported that honey production declined by more than 125 million pounds — a 14 percent decline per colony. Issues affecting colony health, including the mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD), have continued to increase in recent years. From spring 2020 to 2021 colony losses were the second highest on record since first tracked in 2006.
Experts link bee decline to a number of issues, namely agricultural pesticides and herbicides. In 2018, the European Union banned the most popular class of insecticides, neonicotinoids, because of their link to CCD.
The ban followed a report from the E.U. scientific risk assessors, which concluded that the pesticides posed a risk to honeybees and wild bee populations. A recent study that looked at honey samples from around the world found widespread contamination with neonicotinoids.
Bees play a vital role in the food system, pollinating more than 130 fruits and vegetables; they also pollinate 75 percent of the world’s flowering plants.
Last year saw Melibio raise a $5.7 million seed round, collaborate with three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York City for a special menu on World Bee Day and announce a partnership with Narayan Foods to debut in Europe after being named to TIME’s Best Inventions list in 2021.