Susgrainable is a social enterprise that first started as an entrepreneurship project as part of the MBA program at UBC. A fellow student colleague of Marc’s worked in the beer industry and commented on how much spent grain was being produced and found there to be a lot of food waste. Marc saw an opportunity to divert food waste in the beer industry by turning unused barley into an upcycled barley flour, then later used the flour to create baking mixes and tasty treats as well.

Coming from a health care background, Marc knew that from a nutrition standpoint fibre is often something we don’t get enough of in our diets. He then asked now Co-founder and COO, Clinton, who he knew from living in Calgary, A.B. to join him in bringing the business into fruition. Clinton had a unique skillset with an administrative background in the healthcare field and also grew up farming. Through trial and error and utilizing the two Co-founders’ complementary backgrounds, they worked to create a process that worked well for the business and has grown it into what it is today.

Their mission with Susgrainable is to make a difference in the food space from an environmental and health standpoint. Their flour is high in fibre, protein, and minerals with almost zero sugars. Before their flour solution, only 32% of the grain was being used, and now, in collaboration with their partner breweries, they are using 87%. For Marc and Clinton, this is just the beginning. For the future of Susgrainable, Marc and Clinton dream of developing even more food solutions with high-level sustainable impact numbers based on the concept of circular economy.

Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?

Answer: We collaborate with local craft breweries to upcycle their byproduct. Faculty brewing in turn sells our products in their tasting room, and with the launch of our dedicated upcycling facility, we aim to decrease the cost of waste disposal (which continues to rise) for our brewery partners. We also partner with values aligned non-profits who have aligned values (a few include FoodStash Foundation, Fresh Roots, Growing Chefs). Susgrainable founders sit on the board of 3 local non-profits and Clinton is a member of Vancouver Farmers’ Market VAC. Other support includes active participation and sharing of learnings with local incubators and accelerators to support small food and impact businesses (Feeding Growth, e@UBC, Spring Activator). We have offered over a dozen sustainable projects for local academic institutions and have offered 7 student internships to date.

Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?

Answer: We have been generous with both time and product when it comes to supporting charitable organizations that we partner with. We love to work with students and offer work experience in the field of sustainability and social entrepreneurship (we also often partner up with student clubs on some of their initiatives). We have begun piloting circular economy workshops for local high school students. We had to pause this initiative as students and teachers are under a lot of stress with the ever-changing environment due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols.

Sustainability is built into the ethos of the company. We are building a business model that has sustainability at the forefront – fighting food waste is our primary environmental practice! We extend the shelf life by up to 2 years on a product that otherwise spoils within 24 hours. Our micro facility model will see us co-locate facilities close to areas where byproduct is present to limit greenhouse gas emissions (transporting wet spent grain means we are using fossil fuels to move a product around that is 70% water weight). The tech used is more energy-efficient than most methods of dehydration currently on the market. By amplifying awareness around food waste, we are also bringing the conversation front and centre for people to start thinking about food waste in their current lives at home.

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