MeliBio, Inc., a 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, Calif., by Latinx scientist and amateur chef Aaron Schaller, PhD, and Serbian immigrant and honey industry executive Darko Mandich.

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.

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.