SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MeliBio, Inc., the world’s first food-tech company focused on creating real honey without bees, announced a $5.7M Seed round to scale its proprietary technology of precision fermentation and plant science and launch its first line of commercial products. The round is led by Astanor Ventures, with participation of existing and new investors.
MeliBio’s bee-free honey invention was previously named TIME’s Best Inventions 2021 and addresses key UN Sustainable Development Goals. The company’s total funding up to date reaches $7.2M dollars. MeliBio was founded in 2020 in Berkeley, CA by Latinx scientist and amateur chef Aaron Schaller, PhD, and Serbian immigrant and honey industry executive Darko Mandich.
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. 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.”
MeliBio’s first product, a plant-based honey ingredient for B2B and foodservice, was unveiled in October 2021 after a blind taste test of industry leaders revealed that the honey was indistinguishable from standard honey. The ingredient was tested successfully in four restaurant launches in New York City and one CPG company in Washington D.C., paving the way for MeliBio to scale manufacturing and onboard new clients from April 2022. The company aims to provide their product to food, beverage, and cosmetics companies looking to offer a sustainable and vegan product to the fast-growing demographic of plant-based, environmentally conscious, and clean-beauty consumers.
The $10 billion dollar global honey industry is facing many challenges including broken and complex supply chains, decreased yields, price volatility, and quality issues. With looming effects of the climate crisis, the pressure of the honey industry is causing biodiversity of the 20,000 wild and native bees to decline. Bees are essential for the existence of humankind on Earth.
“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.”
Andrew D. Ive, Managing General Partner at Big Idea Ventures said: “We were glad to be the first investors into MeliBio in 2020. 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. We are very excited to reinvest and build our partnership in this incredible team as they accelerate the distribution of MeliBio Honey across the United States and globally.”
The $5.7M seed funding round was led by Astanor Ventures with participation from existing investors Big Idea Ventures and 18 Ventures, and new investors Skyview Capital, XRC Labs, Collaborative Fund, Midnight Venture Partners, Alumni Ventures, Siddhi Capital, Climate Capital Collective, Red Bridge Ventures, VegCapital, HackVentures and mission driven angel investors from Vevolution and GlassWall Syndicate groups.