The United States is one of the biggest beer producers in the world and is known to be the sixth biggest beer exporter in the world. However, this also means that the country produces a lot of malted barley, which is a byproduct of the beer brewing process that is usually thrown away. This is why New York-based startup, Rise, is working to reduce this massive amount of waste by converting it into a sustainable and healthy flour product that they are calling Rise Super Flour.
The product seems to live up to its name as well because of its nutritional properties. Most of the sugar in malted barley is removed during the beer brewing process, which means that the byproduct is low in carbohydrates. According to Rise, their Super Flour has only one-third of the carbs found in traditional all-purpose flour. The Super Flour also has 12 times the fiber and twice the protein of traditional all-purpose flour, because it is made from barley. The barley is also converted into flour entirely by hand and it takes around four and a half pounds of grain to produce one pound of flour.
In addition to these nutritional qualities, Rise Super Flour is a sustainable and upcycled product. With over 42 million tons of spent grain produced every year by the beer industry, Rise is doing their part in reducing food waste. This is a quality that consumers will appreciate according to Nielson; the market research firm found that 75 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainable foods. This also means that Rise Super Flour’s price, which is $8 a pound wholesale and $16 a pound retail, will not be an issue.
The company also has the benefit of saving on ingredients because they are upcycling what is commonly considered to be waste. With spent grain accounting for 85 percent of the byproducts produced in the beer brewing process – which amounts to over one pound of malted barley per six-pack – Rise’s flour-producing process can make a significant dent on the 42 million tons of leftover grain produced each year. In fact, Nielson found that a company’s commitment to sustainability has the power to sway product purchases for 45 percent of consumers.
This might be why the startup has been finding success in the bakery business. The company uses about 1,200 pounds of grain per week that is sourced from local New York breweries such as Rockaway Brewing Company and Sixpoint Brewery. Rise’s customers are using Super Flour for a variety of applications, however, because barley contains less gluten than wheat it complements foods that do not need to rise as much such as biscotti, shortbread and wafers.
Rise hopes to expand their operations from a temporary commercial kitchen in Long Island City, Queens to international facilities. Since the founders of this company, Bertha Jimenez, Ashwin Gopi and Jessica Aquirre, hail from countries such as Ecuador, India, Lithuania and others, they hope to expand internationally.
“In the long term, we can bring this to countries like ours,” Jimenez told the New York Times. “We want to look at technologies that won’t be prohibitive for other people to have.”
The ambitious founders are also looking into producing foods from other liquid byproducts such as wine waste and produce waste from juice bars. However, they wouldn’t be the first company to utilize these byproducts. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have already found a way to convert wine waste into a natural preservative. Additionally, California-based food technology company, Apeel Sciences, has developed a way to convert the peels and seeds of fruits and vegetables into a protective produce film that can extend the life of produce products by up to three times. Another startup based in San Francisco, called ReGrained, is converting spent brewing grains into nutrition bars.
Such innovations are playing their part in reducing food waste and setting a new standard for the food industry. As consumers become more environmentally-conscious, food companies must adhere to their preferences in order to maintain relevance and product sales.