Clinton Bishop and Marc Wandler of Susgrainable Health Foods Inc. in Vancouver
Just over a year into business, Clinton Bishop and Marc Wandler had established a successful waste-reducing operation with Susgrainable, turning discarded beer-making grains into delicious baking goods. But with the majority of his service industry clients shut down due to COVID-19, his team had to quickly adapt for direct-to-consumer sales.
"For us, consumer packaged goods was about a year down the line in our plan. But we decided to dive head-first into creating it and building an online platform to support that." - Clinton Bishop, Co-owner of Susgrainable.
Just when you thought beer couldn’t get any better, it goes and gives us delicious baked goods – helping our planet in the process.
That’s the idea behind Susgrainable – where beer "waste" is transformed into upcycled baking goods by harvesting the leftover grains that are still packed with fibre and protein. Co-owner Clinton Bishop and his team quickly dehydrate barley from nearby craft breweries to create their signature flour, which is used in an array of goods and mixes that they sell to restaurants.
But when COVID-19 forced many of their clients to reduce operations – if not close down altogether – their customer chain was critically disrupted. "The food service industry has been hit incredibly hard as people aren’t out and about," Clinton explains. "A lot of restaurants have been forced to close down, which was our biggest channel."
A new pipeline was crucial. Susgrainable had already been planning to move into consumer packaged goods – but not for at least another year. The pandemic accelerated that timeline, and they quickly shifted their focus to launch a new direct-to-consumer model enabled by online commerce.
Susgrainable also capitalized on the home-baking craze that swept the nation during lockdown. "We built up an inventory of baking supplies that we’ve been able to offer to consumers for purchase," Clinton says. The team also focused on building their brand and finding new efficiencies. "We’ve been able to focus on internal marketing materials as well as internal cleaning. It’s really given us a chance to address things we haven’t been able to get to as a rapid-growth business."
Clinton hopes that the pandemic will serve as a wake-up call for public (and environmental) health awareness. "I think as a society, we weren’t putting enough attention on health," he says. "I started this business centered around creating a healthier planet, healthier people, and healthier communities. I hope this is an opportunity to share our message and see where it resonates."
We’ll cheers to that.
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