MeliBio is revolutionizing a 9,000 year old method of honey production by taking out the beehive and introducing precision fermentation and plant science.
According to Mandic, Darko Mandic, a former director of bee honey, and scientist and amateur chef Aaron Scheller founded the company in San Francisco in 2020 with the goal of stabilizing the $10 billion global honey market. One of the most volatile agricultural sectors with disrupted supply chain and quality issues. ,
Mandic said his revelation came when he read an article in Wired that reported that keeping bees in hives had actually led to a loss of diversity in bee populations, resulting in the death of 20,000 wild and native bee species.
“We want to transform the food industry so we can make food organic and nutritious and give it away for free to our most valuable animals, in our case bees,” he told gaming-updates.
Several companies are already active in the beekeeping sector, such as BeeWise, which manufactures automated hives using precision robotics, and BeeHero, which tracks the health of bees.
Israeli company Bee-io is also working on bee-free honey using a patent-pending bioprocess. Mandic, however, described Melibio as the first company to produce real honey without beeswax. The product has been successfully tested in four New York restaurants.
MeliBio has come up with two ways to produce honey without bees: the first is to use plant science to understand how bees reach plants and what they get from honey production.
Second, how to improve the molecular structure for scaling and product manufacturing. This is where precision fermentation comes into play – by identifying organisms that are well-suited for this application so that they can be widely used, that is, from sprinkling food to baking with it.
The company has now raised $5.7 million in seed funding to help it expand into food service and business applications. In fact, Melibio is already working with 30 companies that have signed letters of intent to conduct exploratory studies, Mandic said.
Astanor Ventures led the round, joined by Skyview Capital, XRC Labs, Collaborative Fund, Midnight Venture Partners, Alumni Ventures and Big Idea Ventures.
“We are encouraged by Melibio’s vision to create a next generation food technology that combines plant science and precision fermentation,” Christina Ullardik, Partner at Astanor Ventures, said in an email. “Darko and Aaron are passionate about advancing the commercial bee supply chain to improve pollinator diversity. We are very impressed with their first product.”
The new funding will be used to further research and development, expand the microbial fermentation process, and officially launch the product in April. Mandich also wants to increase the number of full-time employees from four to ten, in addition to fourteen contractors.
While the company has preliminary revenue, they believe it will change once the product arrives, and Melibio is finalizing letters of intent from multi-billion dollar food companies and restaurants seeking partnerships with them.
Mandich then plans to study the $500 billion ingredient market and see how the company’s precision fermentation technology can be used to share the future of that market.
“By using science in an alternative way, we are reducing the burden on wild and native bees,” he said. “The demand for honey is growing, but by doing it our way, we are helping bee biodiversity. American companies import honey from all regions of the world, and the process is complicated, and the quality is not always guaranteed, that is, it may not be real honey. By coming here, we simplify the supply chain and the domestic supplier has no delivery delays or quality problems. MeliBio will produce honey in three shifts 365 days a year and will parody its price with honey on the market.