It is common for bakeries and restaurants in Singapore to throw out unsold bread at the end of each day. To cut the waste, CRUST co-founder and CEO Travin Singh, 29, turns such unused and unsold bread into beer.
Q: When and how did the issue of food waste catch your attention?
A: Some time back in August 2018, when I was doing research on the origins of beer, I came across quite a number of articles stating that the preservation of bread is one of the oldest forms of making beer. Thereafter, I had the idea of using surplus bread and Googled the amount wasted in Singapore and in the world. I was astonished and I made it my mission to help reduce it significantly.
Q: How do you wrestle with food waste when it comes to you and your family?
A: My family is the basis of what I do and why it was easy for me to start a company like CRUST. My mum incorporates today's food waste at home into something new tomorrow so that we won't waste food. She reuses packaging materials too, so I basically grew up with that mentality and have implemented that within the company.
Q: Why beer?
A: I started with beer because it was what I had knowledge of and it was the most fun way to approach food waste and the market. I have been home-brewing for a while, so naturally it was what I stuck to. However, the company has pivoted to being a food tech company and will be bringing more products or solutions into the market that are not just beer.
Q: Where do you get your supplies from?
A: Our supplies come from RedMart, Tiong Bahru Bakery, SaladStop!, Bettr Barista, Alba and various other restaurants and bars.
Q: Apart from producing beer, what other things does CRUST do to cut food waste?
A: We are introducing CROP into the market early next year. It is our line of non-alcoholic beverages; we use surplus and ugly fruit and vegetables to create anything from sodas to juices, kombuchas and probiotic drinks.
So CRUST is where we use mainly grain wastage like bread, rice, quinoa and corn, while CROP is where we use fruit and vegetable wastage. We even use some coffee and tea waste too.
Q: How has CRUST been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
A: Just like every other food and beverage place in Singapore, we were hit hard. But we made the best of the situation, and you can say that our real growth happened during Covid-19. We created a Web store and started our own delivery platform to survive during the circuit breaker. From June, we started focusing on becoming a food tech company. Our mission is to reduce global food waste by 1 per cent by 2030 and we needed to expand into other products and categories in order to be able to increase our impact. CROP is the beginning of our journey as a food tech company.
Q: What's in the pipeline for the company?
A: We are constantly doing research and development and are looking at making health-related food and drinks from food waste. We launched CRUST Japan recently, and are looking at doing the same in other markets within Asia next year.