Kerry partners with Upcycled Foods on protein crisp from spent brewing grains

Dive Brief:

  • Kerry and ReGrained owner Upcycled Foods Inc. has launched a protein crisp made with ReGrained’s SuperGrain+ flour, developed using spent brewing grains, which is available now through Kerry. It is intended to add texture and nutrition to snack products — including bars, cereals, clusters and crunchy mixes.
  • This is the first ingredient to be announced in a larger partnership between the ingredients giant and the repurposing company to develop value-added ingredients.
  • Food and beverage makers are quickly adopting upcycled ingredients as they aim to expand their portfolios while combating food waste.

Dive Insight:

The upcycled foods trend is on the rise. According to Innova Market Insights, launches of food and beverages with upcycled ingredients saw a compound annual growth rate of 122% between 2016 and 2021.

Upcycled Foods Inc., founded a decade ago as ReGrained, recently rebranded to expand its footprint in the ingredients space. ReGrained, its flagship brand, uses a thermo-mechanical process developed with the USDA to process spent brewers’ grain into a flour. It has touted the ingredient’s better-for-you benefits, claiming it contains 3.5 times the amount of fiber and double the protein of wheat flour.

So far, Upcycled Foods has also developed an upcycled arabica coffee leaf ingredient for applications like kombucha and craft beer, and a cacao fruit syrup designed for sour ales, sauces and marinades.

Its co-founder and CEO Daniel Kurzrock said Upcycled Foods has been in talks with Kerry since 2016. When the upcycled protein crisp product was announced, the company said it received immediate interest from food manufacturers.

According to Kurzrock, Upcycled Foods got the idea for this product when a large CPG requested they make a crisp. Upcylced Foods approached Kerry with the idea. Kurzrock said his company persuaded them by highlighting Kerry’s product development capabilities and Upcycled Foods’ reuse technology. 

Kurzrock said both companies are excited about where their innovation together could lead.

“That’s when we started having a strategic discussion about taking our relationship to the next level,” Kurzrock said. “After that, the energy started flowing on both sides, like, ‘What can we create next to bring this type of solution to other applications?’” he said.

CPG makers’ interest in sustainability leads them to seek upcycled ingredients, Kurzrock said. As a sustainability solution, upcycling is unique, he said, because companies see the benefit in eliminating waste within their own supply chains.

“We’re really seeing a watershed moment right now with businesses looking at food waste product commitments to address the climate crisis,” Kurzrock said. “There’s direct bottom-line financial incentives to do that.”

Earlier this year, ReGrained launched baking mixes for products including pizza dough and brownies made with ReGrained SuperGrain+ flour. This ingredient, certified by the Upcycled Food Association, saves over 300 gallons of water per pound of flour, and prevents the carbon dioxide equivalent of burning one pound of coal, according to the company.

For Kerry, collaborating with Upcycled Foods, which calls itself the “go-to partner” for upcycled ingredients in its press release, provides the opportunity to develop sustainable ingredients and capitalize on a growing trend.

“Innovating new upcycled ingredient solutions with Upcycled Food Inc.’s leadership enables us to develop exciting new food items that live up to this vision and move us towards our goal of reaching over 2 billion people with sustainable nutrition solutions by 2030,” John Kaufmann, senior director of business development at Kerry, said in the press release.