Food experts innovated the first-ever plant-based honey

You may need to update your idea on where honey comes from, as this new innovative honey does not actually come from bees – and it could be a sweet game changer!

It tastes and looks like the honey that we used to eat or use in other products – the only significant difference is it comes from plants. We are talking about the world’s first-ever plant-based vegan honey. 

Thanks to the startup company MeliBio which is based in Oakland, California, for innovating the first-ever vegan honey. They produced the molecularly identical to the bee-made version, which is delicious as the original but is more sustainable and alternatively supports bee biodiversity.

Longevity benefits of plant-based honey 

Okay, it may taste and look the same, but how about health benefits? The bee-made and plant-based honey have the same health benefits. It is simply honey without the bees and has the same exact taste, texture and health benefits. The actual process of recreating plant-based honey is being patented, and the content of nutritional value and health benefits provide similar effects to the original one. The best part is it is vegan-friendly as well. 

You can also use plant-based honey for a variety of purposes, such as a sustainable-industry sweetener, food flavouring or ingredient in cosmetics and healthcare. The plant-based vegan honey has certain similar antioxidants found in bee-made honey. Antioxidants are substances that are known to protect your cells against free radicals, which can cause heart disease, cancer and other fatal diseases. It can help in keeping your health in check by fighting off unwanted free radicals in your body [1]. 

Moreover, plant-based honey is free from clostridium bacteria, which makes it good and safe for new mothers and babies. Clostridium bacteria are responsible for several human diseases, such as gas gangrene (a life-threatening condition in which the bacterial infection produces toxins that release gas and cause tissue death), tetanus (causes painful muscle contractions), botulism (attacks the body’s nerves and causes difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis and even death), pseudomembranous colitis (inflammation of the colon) and food poisoning.

Furthermore, the honey we used to know is considered a healthy product from nature, but what makes it a problem is its industrial process. The downside of the bee-made version is that its honey production can potentially endanger bees, and numerous current shelf-ready products in the market today contain toxins, pesticides and antibiotics, which are not good for the health in the long run. This first-ever plant-based honey is the perfect solution to the alarming negative impact of the bee-made honey industry on biodiversity. It offers a vegan-friendly alternative that is made with only clean-label ingredients, free from seasonal volatility and pesticides.

The demand for honeybees 

You may not see it yet, but bees are essential to human survival. In fact, around 80 percent of worldwide pollination is caused by bees, keeping the global biodiversity balanced and helping food production in crops. There are numerous species of bees, but the most popular one for commercial use is the honeybee, considering their honey’s delicious taste and beneficial effects. With this, the demand for honey has been continually growing, which even marked up the industry to $8.17 billion and is expected to reach $14 billion by 2025. 

The demand for honeybees 

The thing is, when we put too much focus on the health of one particular species, we may put others at risk. It is found that high densities of commercial honeybee colonies significantly increased competition between native pollinators for forage. Consequently, it puts even more pressure on the wild species that are already declining, resulting in unstable natural ecosystems. 

Furthermore, there are over 20,000 wild and native bee species endangered because of the effects of climate change. In addition, the rise of commercially farmed bees as an invasive species also increased too. The two factors – climate change and commercially farmed bees – made a staggering 90 percent decrease in the bee population in the world, according to a report in recent years [2]. 

Partnership of MeliBio and Narayan Foods 

MeliBio has partnered with Narayan Foods, a food innovation platform and one of the largest European organic food producers, to amplify its plant-based honey product in the market. MeliBio is the world’s first-ever company to pay attention to making honey without bees. Their partnership with Narayan Foods hopes to bring plant-based products across 75,000 European stores. The rollout is planned to start in the first quarter of 2023. With the industrial and commercial scaling partnership, MeliBio and Narayan Foods aim to put the plant-based honey on European retail shelves at a retail price of only 3.99 euros for a 240gm jar.

According to a released statement from Narayan Foods, the firm is constantly on the lookout for novel sustainable products that can potentially revolutionise the market, and they found Melibio’s plant-based honey as an incredible food innovation product. Narayan Foods believe that it can leave a distinct mark in the food industry, and they are set to release the product in the European market, making the plant-based honey available in European households as their new favourite vegan food sweetener. 

Moreover, plant-based honey is considered sustainable, making it a good product for the planet, which is generally the aim of many innovative works in the food industry today. The plant-based honey production is also good for The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries because it helps with the regular and constant demand for honey. Žiga Vraničar, the Chief Strategy Officer of Narayan Foods, stated that if the production is set in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it can be self-sufficient as there is no need to import or depend on yield. Honey is available all year round [3]. 

With the plant-based vegan honey alternative in the market, beekeepers and honeybees can take off the pressure of sustaining the industry and supplying the demand for honey globally. At the same time, they can safeguard thousands of other native bee species that are negatively impacted by the fast and commercialised industry.

In a statement released by MeliBio, they believe that we need to help all bees to thrive as biodiversity directly affects the Earth’s sustainability. Their product is made from a novel process, marrying nature and science to mimic what natural bees are working for nature and make animal-free products that match bee-made ones on a molecular level. 

In fact, it is not just Narayan Foods that is interested in supporting MeliBio’s bee-free honey product. In November 2022, it was reported that the firm had received another total investment of $2.2 million from existing investors, especially from the Collaborative Fund and Siddhi Capital, as well as from new investors, like The Greenbaum Foundation.  

The Founder of Collaborative Fund, who recently joined the company’s Board of Directors, Craig Shapiro, further emphasised that the conventional honey industry is not sustainable. As the bee populations have seen steep declines, it threatens to damage the broader food and agricultural systems in many places. The Collaborative Fund is thrilled to support MeliBio, which made an innovative product that is simultaneously healthier, more delicious and long-lasting. The investor further added that they love backing teams who produce goods that make the right choice, the easy choice.

Founded two years ago, MeliBio had already created the plant-based honey formula by last year, October 2021. The plant-based honey is the company’s first product which is intended for B2B and food service. They unveiled this product by conducting a blind taste test participated by the industry leaders, concluding that the honey was indistinguishable from bee-made honey. In the same year, the experts of the firm were chosen to present at the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) – an international food exhibition considered to be the world’s largest professional event in the food sector which is attended by over 300,000 professionals in Paris – and were voted as the best invention of the year by Time Magazine [4]. 

The MeliBio firm was founded by the Scientist and Amateur Chef Aaron Schaller, PhD, and Honey Industry Executive Darko Mandich. Their other products have been featured across multiple American restaurants, like Eleven Madison Park by Chef Daniel Humm and BAIA, formerly by Chef Matthew Kenney.

Consuming the plant-based vegan honey

When asked if people will patronise and switch entirely to plant-based vegan honey,  Žiga, Narayan’s CSO, replied that similar to other vegan alternative products in the market, people will most likely continue to buy the non-vegan ones. However, as the consciousness about the plant-based option grows, more people will choose to use sustainable products over non-sustainable ones. 

Consuming the plant-based vegan honey

As of the moment, the reactions and responses gathered about plant-based honey from retailers are pretty much positive; the majority want to put the product on their store shelves. Plus, the food industry highly encourages vegan, chemical-free sweeteners as well. The plant-based honey that is currently being produced tastes similar to multi-floral honey; hence, in the future, the firm is looking at developing other flavours as well.


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