Case Studies

M&S Launch New Beer From Leftover Bread

5 months ago


M&S Launch New Beer From Leftover Bread


M&S has long since enjoyed a glowing reputation for corporate social responsibility. As such, they’re a company I’ve talked about on numerous occasions.

In my book ‘The Price of Profit’, I focus on their Plan A initiative.

In my fortnightly newsletter, they were my ‘featured company’ for their new beef traceability campaign.

However, it seems that they’re a gift that keeps on giving, as once again, their CSR efforts have made the headlines.

Side note: you can sign up for my fortnightly newsletter by clicking here.

M&S Make Beer From Leftover Bread | Jason Wicks

Bread to Beer

Jesus may have turned water into wine, but M&S are striving to perform a similar miracle.

By using leftover crusts from the production of their sandwiches, they’re producing a brand new beer range.

Okay, so may it’s not as impressive as Jesus’ party trick, but it’s clever.

Very clever actually.

As you probably know, beer is created by fermenting sugars found in grain. Generally speaking, most western beers use Barley as their grain source. Realistically, all M&S are doing is replacing some of that Barley with leftover bread. It pretty much has exactly the same effect.

The thing is, it’s not the basic science that has impressed me, it’s the CSR angle.

In my view, there are 3 key reasons why this is a clever move.

1. It’s a ‘Circular Economy’ Solution

The words ‘circular economy’ are often bandied around when talking about sustainability. Here though, they’re far from out of place. Whilst many companies strive just to make things more eco-friendly, few are creating genuine circular solutions. What I mean by this of course, is the idea of using waste from one process as a resource for another. Thus completing the ‘circle’.

Not only is it fantastic to see a mainstream company thinking in this way, it provides a great thinking point for sustainability as a whole.

Too often, we view sustainability as something that restricts our behaviour.

We can’t do this. We can’t do that. All in the name of the planet. It’s no wonder people lose interest.

Circular solutions negate this. Instead of imposing restrictions, they just say ‘keep doing what you’re doing, just be slightly more clever about it’.

As a proposition, it’s a far more attractive one.

2. It’s Impressively Collaborative

Social change of any kind requires collaboration. No matter how great you are, you can’t do everything alone. I spoke about this in my social leadership article as well as my recent post about Innocent’s ‘Big Grow’ campaign.

Collaboration is absolutely crucial, and in many ways, M&S have gone beyond Innocent’s impressive approach.

Often, when we think about collaborating, we think about corporations forming partnerships with non-profits and charities. Innocent’s ‘Big Grow’ was an excellent example of that. The thing is, in the long term, maybe that’s not actually enough.

Going forward, the most important collaborations, from a sustainability point of view, will be between corporations and their suppliers.

That’s why M&S have impressed me.

They’ve worked with their sandwich supplier, Greencore, to turn this idea into a reality. Greencore collect and freeze the crust ‘end’s of loaves, and freeze them. From there, they then transport them to the Adnams brewery headquarters in Southwold. They then make the beer, and distribute it to M&S stores as usual.

Sure, M&S aren’t exactly asking Greencore to reinvent the wheel, but it’s still impressive to have such a large supplier on board with an idea. Realistically, it probably benefits Greencore as they no longer have to dispose of the crusts, so it’s a perfect win-win.

3. It’s Commercially Beneficial

Companies will ignore sustainability if they can’t profit from it. We can argue about the morality of such a stance for days, but that’s the truth.

Because of this, it’s so important for companies like M&S to show what’s possible.

Yes, the leftover bread thing is a nice USP, but take that away, and it’s just a new beer range. M&S will no doubt make a profit on it, as will the brewers.

In fact, they’ve actually stated that if the new beers prove popular, the concept will be rolled out on a larger scale.

More: I discuss M&S in more detail in my new book. Click here for a sample

M&S Make Beer From Leftover Bread | Jason Wicks


On the face of it, this might all seem a tad uninspiring. However, that’s exactly why I think it’s so great.

By launching this, M&S are proving that sustainable solutions don’t have to be groundbreaking. All they need is a bit of drive and collaboration.

The more companies that take a leaf of of their book the better, as I think they have exactly the right mindset for creating social change.

Final Facts:

A beer that provides a circular solution to environmental problems?

I’ll drink to that.

Hi! I’m an author and blogger within the fields of social impact and responsible business. I believe that businesses can be a force for good in the world, and this website contains my thoughts on how that can work.

One Comment
  1. Benedict Nik

    Very efficiently written story. It will be useful to anyone who employs it, including me. Keep up the good work – can’t wait to read more posts.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *