The newest Irish brand to hit the Evergreen Healthfoods shelves is Tullamore based sustainable food brand BiaSol. Read all about what inspired Ruairi and Niamh to set up BiaSol in our latest Evergreen: Behind The Label series.
BiaSol is Ireland's first food upcycler and was founded by myself (Ruairi) and my sister Niamh. Our first product range comes from a by-product known as “Spent Grain”. This is the leftover grain used in the brewing process. Luckily for us, there is no alcohol as that happens further down the process, it's just wholegrains that are full of fibre and protein. We transport this grain to our facility where we upcycle it making sure it’s safe for everyone to enjoy.
We started the business in 2020 as a way to combat food wastage, improve nutrition and bring our family closer together. Living on opposite sides of the world – Ruairi in Australia and Niamh in Ireland – we wanted a way to stay connected and to work on a cause close to our hearts. Our light bulb moment was the realisation that repurposing food waste was a viable way to be more sustainable and create healthy food products.
What inspired you to join the natural health sector?
Growing up we both struggled with our weight at times, and it wasn't until our early 20’s that we started to understand health & nutrition and how eating certain foods affects your health. Since then, we have been passionate about healthy living but realise that without education on the matter we would still be stuck in our old uninformed habits.
When we founded BiaSol, we did so on two key fundamentals - Nutrition and Sustainability. We’re fighting back against processed foods and low nutrition. Our aim is to share the benefits of eating natural wholefoods and help educate others. Gut health is so important and thankfully awareness of it is growing. We strongly believe that natural health foods can go a long way in preventing many ailments and with BiaSol we can hopefully help spread that message.
Where did you get the idea for your brand?
During the first lockdown in 2020, we started a food project to talk more often and give us an escape from the boredom. Niamh’s background in Food Science and my business experience led to the creation of a food business built upon two core pillars - Nutrition and Sustainability.
When we discovered that almost ⅓ of all food is wasted globally and that approx. 75% of Irish adults don't eat enough fibre we began working on our Food Solution which is where BiaSol comes from - Bia (Irish for food) Sol (short for solution).
What makes your brand unique?
BiaSol is committed to building a zero-waste world. We’re finding innovative solutions to food waste that also supports local businesses. Our goal is to grow the circular economy in Ireland. For too long nutritious food has been wasted and now more than ever we need to change the way we think. We’re Ireland's first member of the new global Upcycled Food Association.
What are your company’s core values?
Care - We care about our customers and protecting our planet. We make business decisions that care too. We’re a company that's founded for purpose over profit.
Honesty - Part of our mission is to fight back against dishonest practices in food production and nutrition. We are committed to working with transparency and being honest day-to-day.
Happiness - We’re lucky to say that we enjoy what we do and it's fundamental for longevity. Everyday should be a happy day. Sure, there will be tough days sometimes. But, it’s important to us to always lift each other up and try to help others find happiness.
How do you support your community?
Our goal is to grow and promote the circular economy. To do that we’re starting local and are working with a number of other businesses to help them reuse waste.
For example, the simplest initiative started when we began shipping orders. Most of our customers will realise that when they receive their order it could be in a branded box from a random company. Instead of ordering new boxes and printing on them we decided to just reuse leftover boxes from local businesses. We were surprised to realise how many boxes are in circulation even at a local level.
In Athlone we’re proud to help close the loop on the town’s first food circle. We upcycle spent grains from Dead Centre Brewing and then send them back to their kitchen where they use them across their menu. Showing the community examples of how the circular economy works is important to us and we’re now looking at other initiatives and ways to spread the message of repurposing rather than disposing.
What has been the most rewarding part of your brands journey?
I think it's meeting other like-minded people that realise there is an environmental problem that needs to be addressed and know that we’re not alone in the fight to make a difference. There is a great sense of satisfaction from noticing that there is a growing community of people that want to make a change to - how we shop, how we produce, what we eat and where it comes from.
What in your opinion makes Irish brands unique?
For us it has to be the people. We both spent time abroad and the one thing we take for granted is the kindness and warmth of Irish people. We’ve especially noticed that as food producers and dealing with other people in the space.
What is your favourite product from your brand?
Niamh’s is our new Protein pancake mix as it’s the perfect breakfast to keep her fuelled after GAA or the gym.
Mine is Super Milled Grains - I like to switch up my breakfasts and do quite a bit of cooking so it works for me as I know I’m boosting fibre and adding flavour.
Tell us about something that has shaped your brand?
Listening to consumers and understanding that gut or digestive health is a real problem for Irish people. Not having a background in food I spent a lot of time talking to health food stores to see what the primary reason is for people to shop there. I was blown away when I heard digestive health was one of the biggest issues. I guess it makes sense as over the last 30 years more and more food has become overly processed and the goodness has been lost. BiaSol’s aim is to help fight this current nutritional gap by supplying wholefoods that are both good for you and the planet.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
The list is quite long but I’ll try and summarise it in a few points.
1. We want to identify more by-products that have nutritional value and bring them back into the food chain.
2. We realise part of the problem is education so we will help educate people on nutrition which hopefully enables people to understand that prevention is the best medicine.
3. Finally, we aim to be Ireland's leading brand ambassador for closing the loop in the circular economy. We hope that BiaSol can lead a revolution in repurposing and reusing foods so that we can all sustain happier healthier lives.