Brewing up a tasty recipe to tackle food waste
It was a chance meeting that led to a groundbreaking partnership.
A casual conversation between team members of Singaporean craft beer maker The Brewerkz Company and artisanal bakery and food store Baker & Cook resulted in the two local SMEs collaborating to address the issue of food waste in the F&B sector in Singapore.
What emerged was possibly Singapore’s first circular sustainability initiative: Sourdough beer made from surplus bread and sourdough bread made using upcycled brewer's spent grains. Under the tie-up, surplus bread from Baker & Cook, which is no longer suitable for sale, is utilised by Brewerkz to produce beer. Conversely, Baker & Cook uses spent grains from Brewerkz’s brewing process to make their sourdough bread. These two products, which were launched in August, are exclusive to each company’s own stores initially, with an eye towards a bigger rollout in the future.
This initiative is the latest and arguably most ambitious, of the two companies’ sustainability efforts. Brewerkz and Baker & Cook have been working on sustainability projects for the past two years, encompassing efforts to become carbon neutral, increase their use of recycled water, and incorporating sustainability practices into daily operations.
“The collaboration centres around the utilisation of surplus ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. Supermarkets provide the surplus bread, which is unsuitable for sale but ideal for making the sourdough beer. By repurposing surplus bread, the collaboration aims to create a circular economy where no ingredient goes to waste,” said Tan Wee Tuck, Co-owner and Managing Director, The Brewerkz Group.
“In our unwavering dedication to combatting food waste, we harness the very essence of simplicity found in bread-making. With only five ingredients and the addition of brewers’ spent grains, a loaf which is the NEWGrain+ Sourdough is created. Every single element in this process is purposeful while ensuring that nothing is wasted,” said Dean Brettschneider, Founder and Co-owner, Baker & Cook.
Circular Brewing and Baking
Through numerous rounds of research and experimentation, the two companies were able to find a way to incorporate the surplus ingredients into their respective products, without compromising taste or quality. Brewerkz was able to replace part of its grains recipe with the surplus bread and through careful research and brewing planning, produce a crisp and refreshing beer. This unique brewing technique not only helps reduce food waste, but also results in a beer with a grapefruit-like hop flavours and bready toast notes.
Baker & Cook repurposed Brewerkz’s spent grains, also known as NEWGrain+, which are typically discarded by brewers, into a high-fibre and protein-rich ingredient in their sourdough baking process. This sustainable alternative can be used as a partial replacement for wheat in various food products, such as bread, pasta, pizza dough and tortilla chips, thereby reducing the demand for fresh crops and promoting eco-friendly practices.
Brewerkz and Baker & Cook have plans to expand their sustainable product range beyond sourdough beer and sourdough bread. Going forward, they aim to collaborate with other food manufacturers to incorporate surplus ingredients into a broader array of their products. By fostering partnerships with like-minded businesses, they intend to optimise the production process without compromising its working capital, while maximising the impact of their sustainability initiatives.
The collaboration also extends beyond product development. They aim to amplify their sustainability message and create awareness about the importance of repurposing surplus ingredients by leveraging media channels. Their emphasis on sustainable packaging further reinforces their commitment to eco-conscious practices, ensuring that their products align with their core values.
Beyond Financial Support
Both firms have received support from various public and private sector organisations for their sustainability initiatives. For instance, Brewerkz was a 2022 DBS Foundation Grant Award winner and received funds to support the development and launch of its first line of sustainable food products. The DBS Foundation Grant Award is the bank’s flagship programme to recognise and support businesses for impact, encompassing both social enterprises and SMEs.
Mr Tan noted that the grant resulted in benefits that went beyond the financial. “Through DBS, I have connected with many passionate entrepreneurs who are developing solutions for a better world. Through these partnerships and open doors, we have been able to create new and innovative products like this one,” he said.
The partnership between Brewerkz and Baker & Cook represents a significant stride forward in the pursuit of sustainability within the F&B industry. With plans to expand the initiative, the two innovative enterprises are set to inspire other businesses to join the sustainable movement, fostering a more circular and conscious approach to food production and consumption.
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