Questions & Answers

How did Toast come about?

Toast was founded in 2015 by Toastmaster Tristram Stuart. He’s an award-winning author and campaigner on the environmental and social impacts of food production – check out his TED talk here.  He also set up the charity Feedback, which aims to put a stop to food waste.

Tristram met the guys behind the Brussels Beer Project. Their bread-based Babylone inspired him to create a delicious beer that could tackle bread waste at an industrial level, whilst raising awareness of food waste globally and raising funds for Feedback. We brewed our first batch in Hackney, London and launched to coincide with being featured on Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty’s Friday Night Feast in January 2016.

Where do profits go?

We have pledged that 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.

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

As a start-up, we are not yet profitable, but forecast to return our first profits in 2019. We forecast we will donate over £3.6m to food waste organisations by 2020.

Why is food waste a problem?

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? Bakeries overproduce to ensure they’ll have enough stock for their customers. It’s a little unpredictable so they inevitably have loaves left at the end of the day. Supermarkets want shelves to always be full and dispose of edible bread that is past the sell-by or best-before date – both indicators of quality not safety.  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 consumer expectations of having abundant quantities of day-fresh bread.

We also waste vast quantities in our homes – 24 million slices of bread every day – because we buy too much.

What can we do about food waste?

The food waste hierarchy shows how to use surplus food. The best thing to do with it is of course to eat it! Second-best is to feed the surplus to livestock. Spent grains from brewing beer make great animal feed. If there are no alternative markets, food should go to composters or anaerobic digesters.

So our priority is to reduce surplus so we give 100% of our profits to Feedback to tackle underlying causes. We’d love to put ourselves out of business – the day there’s no waste bread, we’ll no longer have a need to exist.

We then prioritise redistribution of surplus. When we source bread from sandwich makers and bakeries, we check if the bread could be given to food charities instead.  Often there is more surplus bread than charities can take and it’s difficult to transport and store perishable food that is perishable.

Only when this is not possible do we take the bread to make into beer.

Why beer?

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 sugar by amylase in the barley. The hops are added for aroma and bitterness, and they also help to preserve the beer. Finally, yeast converts the sugars to alcohol.

The resurgence in home-brewing, reflecting the huge growth in the craft beer market, 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 does Toast's bread come from?

We source the heel end of loaves that aren’t used to make sandwiches. We currently work with Adelie foods who donate and deliver the bread to us. It would otherwise cost them to dispose of the bread so it’s a huge win-win!

Our brewery partner uses an industrial shredder to break up the bread. However, we are experimenting with changes to the process that’d allow us to use some whole slices in the brew. That’s save quite a bit of time!

When we collaborate on brews, we work with bakeries local to the brewery. Often the bakery will pre-slice the loaves for us and then the brewers tear it before adding to the mashtun.

The bread replaces one-third of the malted barley. It’s the carbohydrates from the bread that are turned into simple sugars by the enzymes, and into alcohol by the yeast.

Is Toast suitable for vegetarians?

Our brewery partner currently uses isinglass in the brewing process for filtration and stabilisation. We’ve been testing vegan alternatives though and are very close to switching – watch this space!

What awards has Toast won?

We’re so honoured 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

What is Toast's wider environmental impact?

We’ve tried to make our production process as environmentally friendly as possible. Our brewery partner has onsite wind turbines that power the brewery, a bore hole to extract water and sources barley from local farms. The spent grain goes to animal feed rather than landfill.

However, glass bottles remain after the beer has been enjoyed. We encourage people to recycle at home. In the UK, we recycle 60% of our glass – we’d love that to be 100% for Toast and would like to see a deposit scheme introduced. Check out what happens when glass is recycled:

We have also started kegging. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy a pint (or half) in your local without any glass bottles being involved (and the kegs are re-used).