How S’pore Startup Crust Turns Unsold Bread Into Beer

CRUST Co-Founder and CEO, Travin Singh, 29, realized that preserving bread is the oldest form of beer making while also researching the origins of the drink.

“Bread is one of the main ingredients that people waste around the world,” Travin said in an interview with Vulcan Post.

In Singapore, it’s common for bakeries and restaurants to throw away unsold bread at the end of each day.

Travin put two and two together and decided to turn those unused and unsold breads into beer.

Saving the Earth one loaf at a time

Travin started out as a home brewer, who learned the art of brewing through YouTube.

After four attempts he managed to come up with his own recipe for bread beer and founded CRUST in 2019. Now that he’s no longer brewing at home, the brewing of CRUST is done at On Tap.

Image Credit: CRUST via Facebook

The CRUST team uses bread to replace barley and malt, and the sugars in the bread are extracted to produce alcohol.

Each week, excess ingredient partners such as RedMart and other bakeries are notified of how many kilograms of bread CRUST needs. The team then collects the bread to use in the brewing process.

The beer must then ferment for about two weeks, before being bottled and packaged for distribution.

To date, the company has saved 275 kg of bread and produced 4,482 liters of beer, with a mission to reduce global food waste by 1% by 2030.

Bring the dough home

CRUST turns bread into beer
Image Credit: CRUST via Facebook

The startup currently offers two flagship products: Breaking bread beer and I knead an IPA.

They also create white label products for merchants under their respective brands.

He collaborated with Edible Garden City, Tiong Bahru Bakery, The 1925 Brewing Co and Shilin Night Market to produce The king’s IPA, Beerguette, Kaya Toast Stout and Mango respectively.

Its beers are stocked in bars, cafes and retail stores across the island. Resellers include the popular Smoke & Mirrors rooftop bar, the local creative market Naiise and RedMart.

To encourage restaurants, bars and supermarkets to minimize their own waste, CRUST works with their traders to recover their unsold bread.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, CRUST had to completely pivot its business model from business-to-business (B2B) to delivery-to-consumer (D2C).

He created his own delivery service and built an online store so that consumers could get their beer solution straight away.

Travin estimated that hotels were closed during the breaker and are still not fully operational now, despite the economy gradually reopening.

During this downtime, the startup managed to spend a lot of time conducting research and development (R&D) on different types of products and researching new markets.

Say no to food waste

More than just brewing beer, CRUST is an R&D startup looking for solutions to solve food waste. The main reason behind founding CRUST was to build a value-based business that could create solutions to real-world problems such as food waste and sustainability.

bread crust
Image Credit: CRUST via Facebook

Throughout the interview with Vulcan Post, Travin reiterates that CRUST is not just a beer company.

“As long as there is food waste in the world, we will always find a way to build a solution around it,” he said.

“Our first product happened to be beer. But we are no longer just focusing on beer and looking for other products.

Besides its bread beer, CRUST has also produced plant-based beer and plans to incorporate rice and fruit peels in its future breweries.

Non-alcoholic drinks are also on the agenda, and the start-up’s carbonated teas will soon be rolled out at FairPrice Finest.

And after?

CRUST COO Ben Phua (left) and CEO Travin Singh (right) / Image credit: Salt Mag

Since its inception, CRUST has been primed and the founders are actively seeking investments to form a “full team”.

Currently, the CRUST team is made up of five men, with three full-time employees and two interns.

The team is also on the lookout for other surplus ingredients to innovate on and is in talks with the Food Bank to close a collaboration.

Looking away from the region, she has big plans to enter a new market “once every six months or so”. When asked if the Covid-19 pandemic and the global recession will thwart these plans, Travin remained optimistic.

During the Covid-19 period, the CRUST team was still able to meet people from all over the world online, which “made life easier” when it came to entering the market.

As a food technology company, CRUST is also looking to create a market application in the near future, connecting F&B outlets with each other to minimize food loss.

In addition to running CRUST, Travin is also a daytime financial consultant. He said he probably hadn’t met his friends “in a year”. When the business is “more stable”, he hopes to be able to meet his friends “without worrying about work”.

At the end of the day, Travin is passionate about beer and reducing food waste, so it’s a job he is “more than happy to do.”

Featured Image Credit: CRUST

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Jothi Venkat

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