With the sustainability crisis in cattle breeding for human consumption, many companies have been investing in the creation of plant-based proteins with the promise of meeting the increase in consumption of animal meat, which is expected to grow by 70% by 2050, according to with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
With the advent of these new technologies capable of substituting animal raw materials for more sustainable ones, the Californian company MelBio was able to recreate a honey – without the need for the work of bees. The company wants to arrive at the perfect formula of the product not only to be the pioneer in the market, but also to reduce the pressure on the species already committed to the current demand for honey in the world.
In an interview for the technology portal “Fast Company”, Darko Mandich, CEO of the startup, says that MelBio’s mission is also to solve the problem of the impact that bees have in maintaining biodiversity: “There are 20 thousand species of wild bees and native. And these species are committed to the current production of honey, which depends entirely on commercial beekeeping. We decided to use science to produce honey just like bees do, but removing them from the supply chain so that we can help them thrive.” In this way, the bees that are so important for the general development of the planet Earth, will not be exploited by purely capitalist methods that, many times, end up being destructive.
Honey undergoing testing
The company estimates that honey will be available to consumers by the end of 2021.
The honey production process is similar to the one that produces dairy cells by isolating the DNA from the milk protein, eliminating the need for cows in the process.
The first version of laboratory honey had satisfactory results: according to the CEO of MelBio, the texture, flavour and viscosity resembled the original bee honey. A blind test left the tasters in doubt about which product was made by science and which one came from the bees. According to him, 14 companies have already signed letters of intent to purchase the product to use it when it is finally ready.
Laboratory honey can be used in the food industry, and even for cosmetics – giving aroma or texture to soaps, shampoos and other beauty products. The next step is to achieve a round of investment that guarantees a lower cost for this product than natural bee honey. Thus, the use of the insect is discouraged, which can recover from the commercial demands of food consumption.
In addition to the appeal to be produced in an ecologically correct way and to protect the environment – a point of attraction for GenZ consumers (generation Z), those most concerned with the theme between generations – laboratory honey also has great potential for growth between vegans and vegetarians.
It is worth remembering that the animal protein-free food market is expected to grow by approximately 31 billion dollars by 2026. In other words, honey with a scientific stamp may have a beautiful way to go in a consumption behaviour that is booming.