Bread is among the top 3 wasted food globally, with hundreds of tons being discarded daily. Unsold breads are returned to bakeries from retail outlets at the end of the day despite being fit for consumption, as customers prefer to purchase freshly baked over day old produce. These breads are redistributed to charitable organisations, sold as animal feed or disposed, this providing minimal or no value to bakeries.
This technology is a method to convert market surplus bread into a probiotic beverage with zero waste generated. It presents a sustainable alternative for creating a circular economy by transforming surplus bread that will otherwise be discarded into a high-value product for bakeries or drinks manufacturers. Upcycling surplus bread also reduces its impact on the environment, as bread is a perishable product that can cause pollution if not disposed properly.
The invention is a beverage containing live probiotics made from market surplus (unsold but edible) bread. The probiotic-fermented beverage has a creamy mouthfeel similar to dairy probiotic products such as cultured milk, but is suitable for vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals. The product contains at least 1 billion live probiotic cells per serving, which fulfils the minimum recommended levels set out by the International Scientific Association for Probiotic and Prebiotics to obtain health benefits. The live probiotic counts in the beverage can remain above 1 billion CFU/serving for up to 10 and 6 weeks when stored under refrigeration and ambient conditions, respectively.
This technology can be adopted in the food industry by bakeries and beverage manufacturers. Food manufacturers can utilise this technology to upcycle unsold bread into a high-value beverage containing live probiotics. The probiotic-fermented bread substrate can be further developed to produce an intermediary product (liquid concentrate or powder) to be used as a probiotic ingredient for other food, beverages and supplements.
This invention is the first beverage produced from surplus bread that contains high levels of live probiotics. Bakeries which experience high volumes of returned bread can utilise this technology to convert an item with little or no value into a high value beverage that can complement their existing product offerings. The invention covers various bread types, probiotic strains and bread slurry concentrations, which allows for the development of a wide range of products. Beverage manufacturers can also tap on this technology to create products with lower ingredient costs by procuring unsold bread from bakeries. The production process of the probiotic bread beverage is similar to cultured milks, and no additional CAPEX is required if there is an existing manufacturing line. The plant-based nature of this product also allows manufacturers to capture the vegan market, as the existing probiotic beverage sector is heavily dominated by dairy-based products. With increasing social awareness amongst consumers, manufacturers could leverage on the environmental sustainability of this product to promote it.