Nearly one-third of all the food that is produced in the world goes to waste. Travin Singh is on a mission to tackle this by upcycling surplus food like bread and fruit peels into unique beverages that are good for the planet. Even with a growing awareness among Asian consumers, the region’s sustainability efforts still lag behind the rest of the world – and Travin hopes to address this gap.
From picking up homebrewing as a hobby to co-founding foodtech startup CRUST Group, Travin’s spirit of adventure and dedication to explore sustainable solutions is reminiscent of Audi’s own journey to build a greener future. He shares more about the challenges of building a startup and his plans for the future.
I grew up with the mentality of not wasting food. Since young, my mum has cooked for my family and if we don’t finish the food, she would incorporate it into something new the next day. That shaped the ideology behind CRUST.
I also wanted to build a value-based company that finds solutions to society’s problems. When I was experimenting with homebrewing, I learned that the preservation of bread is one of the oldest forms of making beer. That was my Eureka moment and CRUST was formed with the idea of upcycling surplus food to tackle food waste.
When the pandemic hit, we had just two people in the company, and we never had an e-commerce store before. Within less than two weeks, we had to set up an e-commerce store and we were even doing our own deliveries. We did what we could, but we also understood the importance of showing progress, even though revenue will be impacted because of the pandemic.
That’s when we decided to enter Japan to grow the brand. We had to learn about the culture, set up a team, and ensure that it is able to generate revenue. Through this, we managed to build traction for the brand and secured collaborations with renowned hotel brands like Ritz Carlton Osaka and Aman Tokyo. I’ve never actually been to Japan before this, but it’s reflective of the new norm that you don’t have to meet someone in person to close a deal.
During this journey, I’ve found that it’s not just about educating consumers, it’s about educating businesses to find the right balance between what customers want and are accustomed to, alongside what they want to achieve. This comes from both the taste and price perspective. By reducing the price point, you are able to increase accessibility to the wider consumer. For us, we also focus a lot on appealing to local palates - such as light drinking beers to cater to the tropical climate here. We also collaborate with our partners to launch flavours inspired by local tastes, such as the Kaya Toast Stout.
Watch the video below to learn more about Travin’s journey to tackle food waste:
Check out the other videos in the Igniting Conversations with Futurists of Singapore series. Hosted by Markus Schuster, Managing Director of Audi Singapore, the series celebrates the inspiring stories and aspirations of six local changemakers, and how they are creating a better future in their own ways.