“In 2020 and now continuing into 2021, I love how small businesses have really come together to collaborate so much more. We knew our type of business, a circular food business, would be great to start in a place like Vancouver. This has been especially proven to us during these tougher times. We look forward to seeing where our collaborative round box tool will take us into the future, and I hope the conversation about the circular economy grows. We bake sustainability into every bite. Try our product and get the word out there!”
Since 2018, Susgrainable has been transforming beer “waste” into premium baked goods. What they call the beer waste is known as “spent grain”, the leftover malted barley from the beer making process. They quickly dehydrate barley from craft breweries and mill it into their signature Upcycled Barley Flour. It is high in fiber, high in plant-based protein, and very low in sugar! Not to mention it becomes a base flour for delicious baked goodies while also being very beneficial for the planet.
VOICE (V): “Susgrainable is a very unique food business model. How did you come up with this innovative idea?”
Marc (M): “ I have a saying: Anything I end up doing happens accidentally on purpose. I put myself in situations where I end up getting a lot of opportunities and I just have to make a choice. The idea for Susgrainable happened out of my MBA class. After doing my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology, I gained years of work experience at Alberta Health Services and at WestJet. My passion has always been healthy living, with food, sports, and travel. Somehow I managed to juggle between those 2 jobs concurrently quite successfully. Fast forward a few years, I decided to take an MBA from UBC, because everything they were talking about was focused on sustainability and innovation. That definitely spoke to me. In my class, I met somebody who came from working in the beer industry. They brought up this problem about how much by-product gets produced and goes to waste. As much as we love beer, 700,000kg per day of spent grain barley gets produced in Canada alone! I am not sure about the current numbers, but it has probably gone up since Covid-19 hit.
So, I combined two important points. My background in nutrition education told me if all the sugar is going into the beer, then everything we should be eating more of, protein, minerals, and fiber, are being left behind in this by-product. Then my logical side says, “let`s get it back in our food stream and create a business out of it”. It`s been grown for food, thus it is food safe. Why not keep it in our food system for its highest value?”
V: “Which breweries do you work with for your grain supply?”
M: “We personally have worked with 6 breweries to date. Faculty Brewing Co. was the first craft brewery we partnered with. We need to dehydrate barley within a short time frame, and we also rely on a consistent brewing schedule on their end for our grain supply, so we make sure that we have a list of brewery partners on hand. The Parkside Brewery is our most recent partner. In pre-Covid times, some of our partnered breweries used to serve Susgrainable cookie in their tasting rooms which could be enjoyed alongside their beer! ”
V: “So, how are your cookies different from commercial cookies on the market?”
M: “Because of the high fiber and lower sugar content, our cookies are a much healthier snack. I’m hopeful to one day test out and develop cookies specifically for diabetic clients. The flour is definitely made for this! A unique aspect of our current cookie is the sugar to fiber ratio. A typical cookie on the market is approximately 16 : 1 (for every 16g of sugar, you only get 1g of fiber) . Our sugar to fiber ratio is under 5 : 1 (for every 5g sugar, you get 1g of fiber). It is a great ratio recommended by dietitians. “
V: “ And the taste?”
M: “The taste is not much different from any other cookies. Because it is made with 100% spent grain and is plant-based, ours tends to be softer in texture. We have an amazing French trained baker, Bruno, keeping up with Susgrainable`s recipes to wow everyone.
You may find that you like a beverage with our cookie because of the high fiber content, but we all need to drink more fluid, right? The fiber will clean your gut and wash out unwanted materials from your body. It’s how the digestive system is suppose to work. “Exercise your insides” is one of our slogans!”
V: “ Being a young business in the industry, how has Covid-19 affected your business?”
M: “There was so much work for me and my co-founder! We basically kept the business almost the same size with 1/3 of the people and we were growing all those other opportunities at the same time. We decided to cut back on a lot of Farmers’ Markets last year, and only kept a couple of significant markets. Squamish Farmers` Market has been very supportive of our business, so we kept our presence there.”
V: “ Has Covid-19 influenced the circular economy in any ways?”
M: “In a sense, Covid-19 hurt it in a short term. However, in the long term, education and awareness around it has taken off so I’m staying optimistic. There are so many eyes on what the circular economy is now, and there are so many people getting educated on it. It has helped in that sense. People start to realize the impact and start to consume more consciously. It is going to be an interesting time going forward.”
V: “ What does the year 2021 hold for Sugrainable?”
M: “This year, we start off with Susgrainable “round” box for Valentine’s Day! We’re calling it the Susgrainable Sweetie Box. It is meant to be an educational and collaboration tool. With this box, we teach about the circular economy, about sustainable businesses in the Vancouver community, and we share and build up other local small businesses. In our recently released Valentine’s Gift Box, you will find 2 products from each company. It is our first time collaborating with Invito Coffee, a zero-waste, farm-to-cup coffee company in Vancouver, and they offer their medium as well as espresso roast coffee. From Susgrainable, we have our best seller, OG Cookie Mix, and Pancake/Waffle Mix. Those 2 baking staples are best enjoyed with Invito Coffee!”
Marc said there will be more of those sustainable round boxes coming up! Susgrainable is local, healthy, and stays true to the circular economy. And, they are here to educate us one cookie at a time.
Marc`s Favorite Time for Cookies: Pecan Cookie is an amazing breakfast cookie. Best to have it with coffee as high fiber balances out caffeine jitters. Chocolate Chip Cookie is the afternoon snack. If you eat 2 Susgrainable cookies a day, you get 50% of your fiber intake!
VOICE Friend’s Story: Nada Grocery