Questions & Answers

How did Toast come about?

Toast was founded in 2015 by Toastmaster Tristram Stuart. He’s an author and campaigner on the environmental and social impacts of food production. Check out his TED talk here.  He also set up our charity partner Feedback. Tristram had met the guys behind the Brussels Beer Project, and their bread-based Babylone beer (so called because it’s based on a 7,000 year old “divine drink” made with fermented bread) inspired him to create a global movement using beer to engage people in positive action to end food waste.

 

We brewed our first batch with Hackney Brewery in London in 2015 and were featured on Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty’s Friday Night Feast in January 2016.  Since then we’ve been featured in many press articles in the UK and beyond, covered by TV shows such as The One Show, Food Unwrapped and Sunday Brunch and gone viral on social media with video content by CNN, the World Economic Forum and Now This. We have also spoken at events all over the world and met many of the people who are passionate advocates for what we’re doing.  Lots has happened, but it still feels like the start of the journey…

How is bread used in brewing?

Bread has been used in brewing for hundreds of years, with the earliest known recipe dating back to Babylonian times in Mesopotamia. Beer is the original way of preserving the delicious and nutritious calories that bread provides. It also has a much longer shelf life.

We’re re-inventing a historic tradition. We combine fresh surplus fresh bread from sandwich makers and bakeries with malted barley, hops, yeast and water. Bread is packed with carbohydrates, which are broken down to simple sugars by enzymes (amylase) in the barley. The bread replaces one-third of the malted barley. The hops are added for aroma and bitterness, and they also help to preserve the beer. Finally, yeast converts the sugars to alcohol.

For our core range, we use the heel end of loaves that aren’t used by the sandwich industry. We work with Adelie foods who donate and deliver the bread to us, avoiding a waste cost for them – it’s win-win! For our collaborations, we use bread from local bakeries. All bread must:

  • Be truly surplus
  • Have known ingredients and allergens
  • Have no additions such as seeds, nuts, fruits or veg. These would affect flavour and the head of the beer due to the fats they contain.
  • Be fully traceable. Brewers donate their spent grain to livestock and we must have documentation proving the bread been segregated from meat and dairy at all times before the brew.
  • Be sliced (ideally crumbed) and within life. Brewers don’t like mould!
  • Be delivered in sealed containers.

The resurgence in home-brewing means we can all get involved. We waste huge amounts of bread in our homes and not everyone wants to make bread and butter pudding. We’ve published a bread beer recipe online for home brewers.

Where do profits go?

Our profits will go to the charity Feedback, which aims to halve food waste by 2025. We want our impact to be greater than what we can do alone. So whilst we’re directly tackling bread waste by including surplus in our beer, we’re enabling Feedback to do much more. As a start-up, we are not yet profitable, but have committed a minimum of 1% of revenues to charity until we are.

Feedback leads a global movement against food waste, working with governments, businesses and civil society to catalyse change in social attitudes and demonstrate innovative solutions to tackle food waste. Its campaigns include: Feeding the 5000, Gleaning Network, The Pig Idea, Stop Dumping, and the FSE Network.

Globally, we license our brand and work with local food charities. In addition to a contribution to Toast, local breweries donate a share of their profits. In South Africa, we are supporting Soil For Life. In Brazil, we are supporting Gastromotiva.

What can we do about food waste?

We waste 1/3 of all food produced – that’s 1.3 billion tons every year. Food waste accounts for 3.3Gt CO2e (the 3rd top emitter after USA and China), has a blue water footprint of 250 km3 (3 times the volume of Lake Geneva) and a land use footprint of 1.4bn hectares (28% of worlds agricultural land area).

In the UK, we waste about 15 million tons of food, with bread being the worst offender. Nearly half (44%) of bread produced in the UK is thrown away. This doesn’t include bread that is redirected to food charities – that stays in our food chain so isn’t ‘waste’.

Why is bread wasted?

We waste lots in our homes – 24 million slices of bread every day – because we buy too much. But huge amounts are wasted before it even reaches our bread bins.

Bakeries overproduce to ensure they’ll have enough stock for their customers. It’s as unpredictable as the weather so they inevitably have loaves left at the end of the day. Supermarkets want shelves to always be full. They dispose of edible bread that is past the sell-by or best-before date – both indicators of quality not safety – when new batches of fresh bread arrive.  Sandwich manufacturers discard the heel end of loaves because we don’t eat crusts. So unfortunately it’s not as simple as baking less bread – we’ve got to change expectations of abundant quantities of day-fresh bread.

What can we do?

Reduce surplus. We should produce only what we need and eat everything we produce. We give all profits to Feedback to fix the reasons that the doesn’t happen with our food system.

Redistribute surplus. Food should feed people. With bread, there is too much surplus for charities, it’s bulky to store and is perishable. We take genuine surplus – the heels of loaves from the sandwich industry and day old loaves that charities can’s take – to use in our beer.

Feed surplus to animals. Instead of importing crops – often from fragile ecosystems – surplus food stuffs should feed animals. Spent grains from brewing beer make great animal feed.

Compost. Replenish the soils with waste food to keep them healthy and fertile.

Is Toast vegan?

Yes! The bread we source does not contain any animal products, and we switched to vegan filings (used to filter and stabilise beer) in December 2017.

What awards has Toast won?

We’re chuffed to have picked up the following awards:

OrganisationYearAward
FoodBev World Food Innovation Awards2016Best New Beverage Concept
Carlsberg Crafted2017 Your Beer, Here? winner
Food Talk awards2017It’s All in the Taste Award + People’s Choice Award
International Beer Challenge2016Gold award: Packaging & Design;
Special award: Best Innovative Concept
International Beer Challenge2017Silver Tasting Award for our IPA
IGD2017Sustainable Futures Award
Beer & Cider Marketing Awards2017Best Innovation