MeliBio Raises $850,000 for Plant-Based Honey

By James White Friday, April 9, 2021

While many companies and businesses in the plant-based food industry are devoting their resources to producing and marketing meat alternatives, other companies are looking to expand the existing range of plant-based food products in other ways. Startup business MeliBio is taking a sweeter approach to plant-based alternatives by creating synthetic honey without the need for some of nature’s busiest insects. Recently, MeliBio brought in $850,000 in pre-seed funding from investors looking to back the startup company.

“We are thrilled to have support from the investors who believe in the world our company wants to create,” said Darko Mandich, CEO and co-founder of the plant-based food startup business. “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.”

MeliBio rocketed out of the New York-based Big Idea Ventures startup accelerator to garner support for its business. Investors backing the new financing for the startup company include Joyance Partners, 18.ventures, Sparklabs Cultiv8, Sustainable Food Ventures, Capital V, angel investor and co-founder of M13 Courtney Reum, as well as two family offices from GlassWall Syndicate. Big Idea Ventures also supported MeliBio with a $200,000 investment in the startup company.

A honey jar with dipper on a cutting board.

A Sweet, Sustainable Treat

Co-founded by Mandich and entrepreneur Aaron Schaller in 2020, MeliBio utilizes synthetic biology techniques and knowledge of plant science to produce real honey without the need for honey bees. Besides creating nutritious ingredients for the food and beverage industry, the plant-based honey startup aspires to protect native bee species.

Beyond global issues such as climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction, native bee species in the US are actually threatened by none other than the western honey bee. Though millions of honey bee colonies are found in the US, the species is actually not native to the continent and often competes directly with native bee populations, some of which are endangered.

The San Francisco-based startup company hopes that by providing a scalable and cost-effective method to produce honey for commercial business use, the industry can reduce its reliance on invasive honey bees and help protect the local bee ecosystem.

“We’re absolutely delighted to support the MeliBio team in improving our food ecosystem,” said Holly Jacobus, Investment Partner at Joyance Partners. “Their novel technology could have an outsized impact on not only honey production in the US, but the entire ecological community.”

Disrupting the Honey Industry and Supporting Native Pollinators

Market research estimates that the global honey market was valued at over $9 billion in 2020 and expects the industry to grow at a CAGR of 8.2% from 2020 to 2028. MeliBio intends to break into the lucrative market with a synthetic option for food service companies. However, outside of the food business, honey has already been used in the medical and cosmetics industries, leaving substantial room for the startup company to scale up production of its plant-based alternative. Furthermore, the startup business will likely find support from environmental impact investors as the company strives to protect native US bee species.

About the Author


Headshot of James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a BS in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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