GettyImages-146901735 BryanAlberstat

Source: Getty Images / Bryan Alberstat

Roberts Bakery has formed a first-of-its-kind partnership with UK bio-tech business Clean Food Group (CFG) to transform surplus bread products into edible oils.

Currently in a trial phase, the collaboration is said to mark a significant step forward for both companies as they aim to address the pressing issue of food waste. 

CFG noted that waste bread is a significant concern to producers and retailers. According to a 2021 report from the Waste & Resource Action Programme (Wrap), bread is the second most wasted food product in UK households with a total of 20 million slices thrown away every day.

The new partnership focuses on an innovative process, which sees discarded bread products from Roberts Bakery used as a feedstock for CFG’s proprietary fermentation technology. The bread is converted into oils and fats, showcasing the potential of circular economy principles within the food industry, the partnership added.

Roberts, which recently revealed plans to redevelop its production sites in Cheshire and Derbyshire and relocate its biscuit manufacturing business following a major fire in June, will be able to use the glucose syrup and oils created from its own surplus stock in new bread and biscuit products.

“We’re seeing some great results from our early trials,” said CFG co-founder Professor Chris Chuck, who lead the eight-year pioneering research and development of the technology platform along with the University of Bath.

“Irrespective of what the bread is, our yeast can use not just the whole carbohydrate fraction but the protein and microelements present as well. This all-in-one feed gives us a real advantage over using more complex media, in both performance and sustainability,” Chuck added.

Will Harrop, head of sustainability and the environment at Roberts Bakery, noted the importance of the partnership with CFG. “We are committed to optimising the environmental and social impact of our business and part of this is reducing the impact of food waste, working towards our goal of net zero and supporting our deforestation and land use change plan,” Harrop commented.

“This partnership with Clean Food Group is also a wonderful opportunity to investigate new ways to reduce the impact of our food waste in the production of new oils and fats that have a positive impact on the environment.”

Barnet-based CFG said it is looking to scale its technology, working closely with a range of commercial partners and advancing the regulatory pathways associated with bringing sustainable oils and fats to market. 

“We’re entering a new era for oils and fats, one where we can address the biggest concerns in modern food production, from limiting wasted food sources and creating more nutritionally advanced food while reducing the environmental impact of traditional ingredients,” said CFG co-founder and CEO Alex Neves.

Redistribution is another way to tackle food waste in the bakery industry, with major suppliers including Warburtons, ABF, Samworth Brothers, and Greencore recently pledging their support to the Coronation Food Project.