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Upcycling: Companies giving new life to food byproducts

June 13, 2019
Food & Drink

One of the issues around food waste is the byproducts produced in making certain foods. Often these leftovers end up in landfills. Now, more companies are finding ways to use byproducts to create new food or other products, which not only decreases waste and helps feed the increasing population, but also speaks to the values of consumers.

Spent grains
Beer production results in spent grain that’s typically fed to farm animals or tossed away. But the San Francisco-based company Regrained is now taking that grain, upcycling it into SuperGrain+ flour, and using the flour to produce snack bars. The company looks poised to grow after receiving $2.5 million Series Seed financing in September 2018.

Regrained isn’t the only enterprise making flour from spent grain. Rise Products upcycles the grain into a barley flour that’s sold to consumers and food manufacturers. Rise also sells both a brownie mix and ready-to-eat brownies made using the flour. Another company making flour from leftover beer grain is Grain4Grain.

Companies are also finding other uses for spent grain:

  • Canvas makes plant-based protein beverages using spent barley grain.
  • Portland Pet Food Company uses spent grain to make dog biscuits.
  • Brew House Compostables uses it to make disposable plates.

Other byproducts into flour
Spent grain isn’t the only byproduct being made into flour. Here are three other byproducts being upcycled into flour:

  • Coffee cherries protect coffee beans inside the pods. The production of green coffee beans creates up to 45 billion pounds of coffee cherry pulp every year, according to Coffee Cherry Co. The company is taking the pulp, which is typically thrown away, and turning it into coffee cherry flour. “In beverages it’s like cascara only better… In baked goods and snacks, it brings flavor, nutrition, and function,” the company says. The flour is high fiber and contains significant amounts of iron, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Okara is the pulp created during the process of making soy milk. Renewal Mill dries and mills okara into a nutritious, gluten-free flour. The company received $2.5 million in funding in January 2019 and plans to use drying and milling to make other fibrous byproducts into useful products.
  • Flour from defatted sunflower seeds, which are the dry matter left after oil extraction, is the main product of ingredient company Planetarians, which is on a mission to “redirect 100% of the sunflower defatted seeds into food production by 2030.” The company, which has also created sunflower chips, closed a $750,000 Seed round of funding in March 2019.

Vegetable and fruit pulp
Vegetable and fruit pulp, along with “ugly produce,” creates significant food waste. Ingredient company PurePlus+ uses juice pulp and second tier produce to create a nutritious plant-based powder that food companies can add to their products.

Pulp Pantry uses pulp left over from juicing vegetables and fruits to make grain-free granola. Barnana takes “imperfect” organic bananas rejected by retail buyers and makes snacks. Even chicken-giant Tyson is getting in on the action with Yappah Chicken Crisps, which contain rescued carrot and celery purees from juicing or rescued malted barley from beer brewing.

Here are three other examples of companies upcycling food byproducts:

  • Skin care company 29 uses grape seed oil produced in the winemaking process to create skin care products.
  • Yogurt-maker The White Moustache uses whey, a byproduct of producing yogurt, to create a probiotic beverage.
  • NetZro has four projects: processing egg shell waste from egg producers into calcium carbonate (using the shell) and collagen protein (using the shell membrane) for animal and human consumption, turning spent grain into flour, processing juice pulp into an ingredient to use in other food products, and processing compostable food waste into a soil amendment.

By Carol Wiley

Source: Food Industry Executive

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