- ReGrained's SuperGrain+ flour has become one of the first ingredients to receive the Upcycled Food certification developed by the Upcycled Food Association, according to the company.
- ReGrained uses a thermo-mechanical process co-developed with the USDA to process spent brewer's grain into a flour. The company claims it has more than triple the dietary fiber of wheat flour and twice the protein of oats. It's also rich in prebiotics.
- The Upcycled Food Association adopted its certification standard in January 2021 to create a framework for upcycled ingredients and products. Each year, up to 40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted, according to the USDA, making upcycling a potential solution.
ReGrained was founded nearly a decade ago to solve a problem: more than 20 billion pounds of spent grain is created by beer makers each year in the U.S. Most of this spent grain gets thrown away or ends up in animal feed, but company founders and home brewers Daniel Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz saw greater potential in the waste product.
The company takes spent grain from its brewery partners and processes it in a way that preserves its flavor and nutrients. The material is finely milled to create SuperGrain+, which is said to resemble a toasted flour.
Today, ReGrained has its own line of bars and puff snacks featuring SuperGrain+. The ingredient also has applications as a natural coloring agent and thickener. In addition, it acts as an oil and water bonding agent in products such as pastas, cereals, smoothies, nondairy milks and sauces, as well as coatings for plant-based meats.
ReGrained has created other upcycled ingredients for food manufacturers through its Upcycled Food Lab, including oats used in milk production and pulp from juicing.
The certification of ReGrained is the latest development in the UFA's efforts at formalizing the use of upcycled ingredients and tackling food waste.
In May 2020, the group created a task force of academic, nonprofit and industry leaders to develop the first official definition for upcycled food. It defined them as ingredients "that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment."
Each pound of SuperGrain+ prevents the carbon dioxide equivalent of burning one pound of coal, and it saves more than 300 gallons of water, ReGrained said.
This past April, the UFA debuted its Upcycled certification mark. To receive approval, a product must undergo a supply chain audit to ensure that its ingredients come from a verified upcycled source. The manufacturer must also share details on the amount of upcycled content in the ingredient or product, how much food waste is diverted each year because of production, among other details. The certification must be renewed annually.
Other products vying for the Upcycled Certified mark include Barry Callebaut's WholeFruit Evocao, which is slated to be the first coverture chocolate to achieve certification this year.
ReGrained's SuperGrain+ is not the only ingredient that upcycles brewers' grains.
AB InBev's Anheuser-Busch operation is investing $100 million to expand production capacity of its EverGrain subsidiary. The unit, which processes spent barley to isolate the fiber and protein, can then be incorporated into food and other beverages. EverGrain's barley protein is an ingredient in products such as Take Two, a plant-based barley milk line. Nestlé plans to add it to its nutritional food supplement Garden of Life brand later in 2021.
Upcycled food may not only be good for the environment — it's also big business. A study from Future Market Insights found upcycled food waste was worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and has an expected compound annual growth rate for the next 10 years of 5%.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when The Upcycled Food Association adopted its certification standard. It adopted the standard in January 2021.
It also misstated the status of SuperGrain+. It was one of the first ingredients to have achieved Upcycled Certification.