Upcycled appeal: CRUST Group develops non-alcoholic beverage from fruit peels, outlines Japan expansion plans

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

CRUST's flagship beer made from surplus bread ©CRUST Group
CRUST's flagship beer made from surplus bread ©CRUST Group

Related tags Singapore Beer Food waste Bread Japan

Singapore-based CRUST Group has developed a new non-alcoholic beverage line using upcycle fruit peel, and hopes to launch into market by the end of the year.

CRUST is known for producing beer using surplus bread​ collected from bakeries and e-commerce platforms in Singapore, in a bid to reduce food waste and increase sustainability.

The firm substitute grains used in beer production such as barley and malt, with bread which contains sugars to convert into alcohol.

According to founder and CEO at CRUST Group, Travin Singh: “While bread and beer will always be our flagship product, we created a second beverage line with the same vision, to upcycle food waste by focusing on fruit peel and ugly fruits​.”

Travin told FoodNavigator-Asia​, “During Covid-19, we pivoted into a food tech company because we felt as a brand, we could do so much more than just bread and beer​.”

The non-alcoholic line named CROP, will not only upcycle food waste, but the firm also hopes to offer a healthier beverage choice.

The first products from the CROP line will be sparkling water infused with fruit peels. The firm is working with orange, lemon and lemon-lime peels.

Travin said while the firm has done the proof of concept for these products, it is currently collecting consumer feedback on this.

It is working with a waste management company in Singapore which collects fruit peels from juice vending machines in Singapore.

We hope to launch by the end of this year in Singapore, but it is dependent on the supply of fruit peel​.”

Covid-19 change

It was also during this time, when the firm decided to pivot from a brewing company into a food tech company.

It hopes to work with businesses, collect their food waste and turn it into new products.

Airlines, food retail service, F&B chains, hotels, and supermarkets all have a lot of food wastage and most of them are just throwing it away. We want to be their R&D partner, conduct product development and manufacturing, and co-brand a product together with them​.”

Since launching in September 2019, the firm has saved 450kg of bread and produced 7500 litres of beer as of November 2020.

The team of two, has now expanded to 14 people comprising full-time staff and interns, across its Singapore, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand markets.

Travin said the firm also shifted from a B2B model selling to restaurants and bars into a direct-to-consumer business model, through its webstore during the Covid-19 period.

Travin said this shift helped sustained its business, however, did not dramatically improve its sales.

Before Covid-19, we had restaurants and bars buying 60 bottles per delivery, but home delivery are now purchasing maybe six bottles per delivery​.”

CRUST’s alcoholic line will enter a major supermarket chain in Singapore, FairPrice Finest, by January 2021.

Once CROP is ready for the market, Travin said it has the potential to enter more sales channels being a non-alcoholic beverage.

Japan plans

CRUST is also entering its first overseas market Japan in December, hoping to produce and sell a beer made from surplus rice and bread.

When we did market research, we found out bread and rice were very big in terms of wastage in Japan.

“We have done a test batch in Singapore for this product​.”

The firm is working with a brewery partner for production, and currently in discussions with bakeries and supermarkets to source the ingredients.

While Japan’s beer scene is dominated by big names like Asahi, Sapporo and Kirin, Travin was not hindered. “We (CRUST) are not a brewing company, we are a food tech company​.”

CRUST hopes to enter Japan with its beer product first to build the brand, before introducing more products including the not-released CROP range.

Travin said sales channels in Japan have not been finalised, as the brewery company it is working with has its own distribution channels into restaurants and bars, but CRUST is also hoping to enter more channels as he sets up more partnerships.

The plan is to enter three more Asian markets next year, starting with Thailand early 2021.

Singapore will remain CRUST’s R&D site, working with food labs such as A*STAR, DSM’s Bright Science Hub, Innovate360 and FIRC.

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