Making it Work

How a grain of an idea became the main ingredient in a thriving food business

Starting with spent grain from breweries, Biasol upcycles food that would normally go to waste to create nutritious and delicious ingredients for products such as scone and pancake mixes

Niamh and Ruairí Dooley, founders of BiaSol, which makes a range of products using upcycled spent grains from brewers

BiaSol is an Offaly-based business that is on a mission to eliminate food waste by using ingredients that are left over from the manufacturing process.

Founded in Tullamore by siblings Niamh and Ruairí Dooley, the business was started in 2020 and currently has five staff.

“We upcycle food ingredients. Our first range of products comes from spent grain from breweries. That’s the industry’s largest by-product and we’re working with four independent craft breweries in Ireland,” Niamh Dooley told the Business Post.

“We take the grain back to our facility where we have a process to turn it into delicious and nutritious food ingredients.”

The business is working with O’Hara’s brewing in Co Carlow, Brú in Co Meath, Dead Centre in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and Ballykilcavan in Co Laois to reduce their waste.

“During the pandemic I lost my job and Ruairí came home from Melbourne. We set out to produce a healthy food product in a sustainable way. When we did our research, we came across upcycling. The trend had started in the US, but it was clearly emerging worldwide,” Dooley said.

“It seemed like a good way to do more with less. We realised with craft brewing exploding in Ireland over the last decade, that this was an opportunity. I ended up calling a bunch of breweries to see if we could even get the grain.”

The response from the brewers Dooley called was positive, with immediate offers to test the grain to work out if the business was viable.

“We ran trials in our kitchen, sent it to chefs and bakers, and gathered feedback. The research and development process took around a year and a half.”

BiaSol’s products include scone and pancake mixes along with morning cereals, all developed using upcycled grains. The business is supported by Enterprise Ireland and Dooley said the agency has proven a valuable aid to the development of BiaSol.

“They’ve been fantastic. When we only had a concept, I applied for New Frontiers and that helped me to approach it as a business model. We also received support through the competitive start fund before we went on to do Food Works,” she said.

“Altogether we’re now in 130 stores. We started with our flagship product, Super Milled Grains, which is sold only in health stores. That’s stocked in about 40 stores now. Then came our baking mix range. We got out on the road in front of people.”

BiaSol has also become an official supplier to the IRFU and that was one of the first big endorsements the business received.

“One of the first chefs to support us was Maurice McGeehan, the food director in the IRFU. We got in contact with him and he liked that the product was great from a health perspective and that the flavour was really good,” Dooley said.

The next step is sourcing upcycled ingredients from larger food brands to help those businesses address their sustainable development goals.

“Now, a lot of food brands can only address sustainability in terms of packaging. We want to show how they can use upcycled ingredients to make nutritious food. That’s where we really see the business growing going forward,” Dooley said.