Surplus is the name of the game at Earth & Wheat, which hit the scene less than a year ago selling boxes of ‘wonky’ bread direct to consumers.
Since then, it has redistributed more than 300 tonnes of baked goods that would have otherwise gone to waste at the point of production owing to their odd size or unattractive appearance.
“We believe no good food should go to waste and yet overall, around 16% of food waste is binned at the point of production – before it even reaches the shop shelves,” explains Earth & Wheat founder and fourth generation baker James Eid.
“It’s this ‘invisible waste’ that we don’t see which Earth & Wheat is fighting to reduce and, one day, eliminate. No other food tech brand in the UK is achieving this at such scale.”
No other food tech brand in the UK is achieving this at such scale
So, what constitutes a ‘wonky’ bakery item? “Customers have very strict specifications on what is allowed and what is not allowed to be packed. If a tortilla is not a perfect eight-inch circular shape, it will be rejected, so the automated machinery in the bakery will immediately spot it and throw it in the bin,” says Eid. Crumpets, he explains, can come out of the oven looking “too thin” because there isn’t enough batter, while naans are a “highly wonky bread product because they have to be handcrafted into a teardrop shape” leading to variations in shape and size.
At first Eid started by utilising surplus from his family’s business, Signature Flatbreads, with the subscription boxes comprising crumpets, tortillas, naan, pittas, pancakes, and more. Shoppers can buy the boxes, which contain a 2kg mix of products, on regular basis with each box costing £6.99.
Eager to expand to other baked goods, the business partnered with a bakery in November to deliver a vegan sweet and savoury broken biscuit box. Priced at £8.99, the 1.8kg box (pictured above) features a mixed selection of broken cookies, gem biscuits, gingerbread, crackers, and water biscuits, which are separated into several sealed bags to maintain freshness.
Earth & Wheat is always on the lookout for new partners though. “One of the biggest concerns for bakeries is food waste, and the figures we see are eyewatering,” explains Eid. “Waste is typically a loss – a loss to our planet, and a loss to the pockets of hard-working bakers. We’re looking to partner with environmentally conscious bakeries who are interested in reducing their food waste and turning that loss into profit.”
Waste is typically a loss – a loss to our planet, and a loss to the pockets of hard-working bakers
Earth & Wheat has invested in software with integrated logistics which provides a “streamlined and efficient way to rescue bread from bakeries all over the UK”. “It doesn’t matter what size the bakery is or what type of baked good product it is trying to save, it’s about reducing food waste and improving the bottom line for our bakery partners,” Eid adds.
Looking to the future, Eid plans to launch an Earth & Wheat website this month which will make it simpler to onboard new bakeries and scale up the business while simultaneously making it easier for consumers to manage their online subscriptions. It has also recently partnered with bike-sharing app HumanForest where it will be using in-app impressions within the platform to connect with the app’s community of sustainably-minded users to let them know more about how they can reduce food waste and help save the planet.