MeliBio, a startup that makes real honey without the need for bees, announced today that it has raised an $850,000 pre-seed round of funding. Investors in the round include Big Idea Ventures, Joyance Partners, 18.ventures, Sparklabs Cultiv8, Sustainable Food Ventures, Capital V, angel investor Courtney Reum and two mission-driven family offices.
Founded in 2020, the Berkeley, California-based MeliBio uses precision fermentation, synthetic biology and plant science that replaces bees as the medium for making honey. The result is a “honey” that has the same taste, texture and mouthfeel of real honey without any harvesting from bees.
MeliBio is among a number of startups using precision fermentation to recreate familiar foods. Change Foods is making cheese from fermented microbes. Perfect Day is re-creating dairy proteins for foods like ice cream through precision fermentation. And Mushlabs is using fermentation to turn mycelia into a meat alternative.
The reason for all of this activity is to tackle the needs of feeding a growing global population while reducing the environmental impact that can come from traditional agriculture. Additionally, these new fermentation techniques could cut down the production time it takes to make these foods because you aren’t relying on traditional animal or crop growing cycles. MeliBio says its approach can help save 20,000 wild and native bee species that are essential to Earth’s flora and fauna.
According to the press announcement, MeliBio says it will supply food service companies with its plant-based honey as an ingredient. The first such product will be soft launched by the end of this year to its first customers. The company expects to expand its commercial product rollout in the first half of 2022.
To learn more about MeliBio, check out the recent podcast we did with MeliBio CEO, Darko Mandich at the end of last year.