Vegan honey brand MeliBio raises $850,000 in pre-seed round

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MeliBio, the company using microbial fermentation to make vegan honey, has raised $850,000 in funding in a pre-seed round.

California-based vegan honey brand MeliBio has announced the closing of $850,000 (approximately £617,000) in a pre-seed funding round.

Founded in 2020 by Darko Mandich and Aaron Schaller, the company is developing a proprietary technology based on synthetic biology, precision fermentation and plant science to replace honey bees as a medium for the production of honey.

The global honey industry relies solely on honey bees and faces many sustainability-related issues, including a negative impact on bee populations and biodiversity. MeliBio claims it can help save 20,000 wild and native bees essential to the planet’s flora and fauna by producing real honey with help of science.

After coming out of Big Idea Ventures’s leading global startup accelerator programme in New York, MeliBio attracted nine investors, raising funds from the likes of Big Idea Ventures, Joyance Partners,, Sparklabs Cultiv8, Sustainable Food Ventures, Capital V, angel investor Courtney Reum and two mission-driven family offices from GlassWall Syndicate.

The brand plans to initially supply to foodservice with its plant-based honey as an ingredient. The first product will be soft-launched at the end of this year to fulfil orders received during its participation in the accelerator programme. MeliBio is also in talks with potential partners from several countries and expects further commercial product rollout in the first half of 2022.

Darko Mandich, CEO and co-founder of MeliBio, said: “We are thrilled to have support from the investors who believe in the world our company wants to create. That world is the place where the most delicious and nutritious food is accessible to everyone, but not at the expense of the sustainability of our planet. I thank all of the people who work diligently to bring MeliBio’s honey made without bees into many homes and communities.”

Sustainable Food Ventures’s Ryan Bethencourt, who is a partner, added: “MeliBio is how we unfuck the world. MeliBio’s mission is to stop the devastating loss of bee biodiversity with a better, more sustainable, plant-based honey. There’s no us without the bees and we’re 100% behind MeliBio on their mission to save the bees and us.”

Andrew D Ive, founder of Big Idea Ventures, said that the firm invests in companies with transformative technologies with the power to affect global change: “MeliBio has the real potential to change not just the honey category but the whole sweetener and skincare industries with a new and sustainable way to create real honey without the bees. MeliBio has created the first truly vegan honey.”

Read our interview with MeliBio founder Darko Mandich.

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.