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Belgian retailer reuses bread waste to grow mushrooms

Colruyt Group reuses its own bread waste to grow mushrooms. For the production of this circular product, they entered into a cooperation with ECLO, formerly known as 'Le Champignon de Bruxelles'. They have the know-how to process bread into substrate and grow different types of mushrooms on it. The test to valorize bread waste streams, driven by Colruyt Group's food innovation team, lasted 1.5 years and is a success. The first mushrooms, grown on Bio-Planet's bread residual streams, will be available in the Cru markets in Overijse, Antwerp, and Ghent from mid-October.

Partnership for growing a circular product
Colruyt Group's food innovation team approached ECLO with the idea of valorizing residual flows. This huge city farm in Brussels grows delicious mushrooms locally in a sustainable and circular manner, as well as micro-vegetables, and has the know-how for cultivation on residual streams. In this project, bread residues are processed into substrate, on which different types of mushrooms can grow. The substrate is used as a fertilizer for the gardeners' fields after the harvest. That way, we get a circular product.

"The partnership with Colruyt Group confirms our belief that local entrepreneurship in a circular economy by means of residual flows can be successful," said Hadrien Velge, co-founder & CEO of ECLO.

Successful test
The test project for growing mushrooms on bread waste took place in exclusive cooperation with ECLO and lasted 1.5 years. ECLO collects the bread residues from the Bio-Planet shop in Groot-Bijgaarden and processes it into substrate. 

After about 10 weeks, the mushrooms are ready to be picked. The mushrooms are of superior quality, have a long shelf life, and a pleasant structure. They can be kept for 10 days at a temperature between 2° and 7 °C because they are so fresh. Eryngii and shiitakes grow best on bread substrate, but oyster mushrooms are also grown on bread residues. 

Now that the test is successful, Cru can temporarily offer these 3 types of mushrooms in their markets in Overijse, Antwerp, and Ghent from mid-October. Cru customers are foodies and, therefore, an important audience to test the element of taste. They will get the opportunity to give their opinion on the product and the sustainable cultivation of the mushrooms. 

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