Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after the opening of its new production facility, Belt — the former vice president of sustainability & innovation at AB InBev — talked about the journey to get to this point of commercialization, “We’ve been working on this for quite a long time including an R&D effort that goes back ten years. Our large scale facility here in St. Louis really enables us to now have an impact on the world.”
The new $100m facility is situated on AB InBev’s St. Louis, Missouri campus in a refurbished building built in 1905, which had gone unused for the past 30 years. The proximity means EverGrain can have direct access to the thousands of tons of ‘spent’ grain (what’s left over after the brewing process) that AB InBev produces, reducing the company’s environmental impact, noted Belt.
“The fact that we could co-locate on a brewery really means that we’re not transporting grain long distances, so it literally comes from their brewery, and comes across a pipe into our facility,” he said.
‘The golden remainder’
So what makes spent brewer’s grain, which only contains around 10-15% protein, so attractive as a value-added plant-based protein ingredient and referred to by EverGrain as ‘saved’ grain or more affectionately ‘the golden remainder’?
According to Belt, once EverGrain is able to separate and filter the protein and fiber from one other what’s left is a “super high protein isolate (i.e. EverPro)” that performs and behaves very similarly to dairy and whey protein.
“It’s over 90% soluble and has very low viscosity like water. What that means is you can put 35g in a protein shake, and it will behave very similarly to whey protein and milk protein concentrate,” said Belt, who noted that the options for an ultra-high plant-based protein beverage are few and far between compared to the abundance of dairy-based protein drinks.