"As a vegetable myself, I definitely miss consuming honey," claims Darko Mandich, co-founder and also chief executive, management of MeliBio, wistfully.

It's not unusual for vegans come miss particular foods. What is unusual, though, is mr Mandich's solution: to produce a type of honey, similar to the natural kind in every molecule, yet produced there is no involving any bees at all.

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"When friend look at honey and how it's made, that starts through bees collecting pollen and also nectar native the flowers and then converting that into the structure blocks the honey, which are fructose and glucose," he says.

"We room simulating the in the lab, making use of micro-organisms which execute the occupational of structure the initial block of honey."

Over the last couple of years, plant-based alternatives to meat and also dairy have end up being increasingly widespread. However, for many, they just don't come increase to scratch in regards to flavour, texture or ease of use.

But now, a number of start-up companies, favor MeliBio, are looking to use fermentation to develop vegan commodities that are similar biologically to the actual thing.

Through the process of fermentation, micro-organisms digest a food supply and also excrete a valuable product - yeast, for example, is fed sugars and also produces alcohol to do beer.

But by tailoring the micro-organism carefully and also choosing the right feed stocks, it's feasible to develop a different end product - anything indigenous honey, come egg whites, to milk.

Image source, Sophotogenic Photography

One firm taking this method is much better Dairy, a London-based start-up arising milk and cheese with yeast fermentation.

"The method it functions is that you can use yeast in the way that we usage yeast because that beer unavoidable - but we tweak the yeast so that instead of producing beer, that produces what we want it to produce," claims Jevan Nagarajah, co-founder and chief executive.

"So the modern technology is making use of yeast as a conversion communication from the input sugars and also the things that you'd normally feed it, and turning that into dairy, in our case."

Similar approaches are being offered to produce egg whites, through San Francisco-based Clara foods on the brink of fixed production and also hoping to come to be the world's largest egg protein producer by 2028.

Image source, Clara Foods

"Our proprietary fermentation an innovation allows united state to control and even surpass the texture, taste and culinary usability of animal-derived egg counterparts," states co-founder and also chief executive, management Arturo Elizondo.

According come the UN's Food and agricultural Organization, meat and dairy between them account for around 14.5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

"Commercial beekeeping is favouring a solitary bee species, the honey bee, anywhere the human being to satisfy the rising demand for honey," that says. "They are proactively competing v wild and native bee types and advertise them back."

Image source, MeliBio
Image caption, Darko Mandich, chief executive, management of MeliBio, really hopes to sell his honey to the food, drinks and cosmetics industries

We're likely to see the first bio-identical dairy commodities as ingredient in other products, rather than in cartons or jars on supermarket shelves.

"Around two-thirds of the honey marketed in the sectors is honey as an ingredient because that other commodities - markets like food, beverages, cosmetics and also pharma. So we together a company are starting with a business-to-business version first," claims Mr Mandich. "We currently have 15 companies in the united state who have signed letters of intent."

Better Dairy has actually a comparable strategy. The company's a tiny further behind in terms of commercialisation, however is confident the it will be able to produce in ~ scale, and also is feather to sell to restaurant chains.

"If friend think the someone like Pizza Hut or McDonald's whereby you require a cheese the melts in a very details way, it's very difficult to have actually a cheese that's meltable and also actually vegan, and also that doesn't turn right into a pool of oil and also starch when you chef it," states Mr Nagarajah.

One issue with commercialisation will certainly be labelling - room these assets really milk, eggs or honey? The providers are optimistic that the authorities will watch it the way.

"It is molecularly identical, for this reason it have to be the same," claims Mr Nagarajah. "But if we have to select a various name, so be it."

One intriguing opportunity of fermentation-based pet products is the possibility to create commodities that are much better than the genuine thing.

In the case of honey, because that example, there's no reason why production couldn't be tailored to produce a perfect copy that manuka love husband - claimed to have actually health benefits, and also costing around 100 times as lot as normal honey.

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"By doing it this way, we wouldn't have to put lactose in ours products. We'd change that with one more sugar that's simpler for human being to digest," claims Mr Nagarajah.

"And over there are other opportunities. We're starting off with cows' milk, however actually the same method can be supplied for human being milk and also infant formula applications."