Defined by The Upcycled Foods Association (ReGrained is one of the founding member companies), upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption which are produced in a way that has a positive impact on the environment (part of the association's certification passed in January 2021 requires the upcycled foods companies must disclose the source of their carbon emissions).
For ReGrained, this means using some of the roughly 20 billion pounds of spent grain leftover each year from the beer brewing process to create SuperGrain+ (a blend of barley, wheat, and rye), a versatile and nutritious grain powder with 3.5x the dietary fiber of wheat and twice the protein of oats, according to the company.
The company holds a patent on the processing technology it developed with the USDA to convert byproducts into novel ingredients for the food industry, in which the applications are endless.
“If money were no object at all we could release a product in every category of the grocery store,” ReGrained CEO Dan Kurzrock told FoodNavigator-USA.
'We're an ingredient company that has consumer products'
ReGrained hopes to show the industry at large the versatility of its processing technology and star ingredient through its in-house product creations.
The company’s first proof of concept for SuperGrain+ was its nutrition bars (which have been discontinued largely due to the category taking a major hit in the past year).
Now, ReGrained has focused attention on its puffs line (available in an assortment of flavors including Aged Sharp Cheddar and Mexican Street Corn sold online through Thrive Market and in several brick-and-mortar retailers including Kroger’s Fred Meyer banner).
“The puffs are an example of how this product can be used not just in the salty snacks set and showing the versatility there, but show the process that we use to create these products called twin screw extrusion. It’s a process that shows of level of commercial viability for using this ingredient at scale,” said Kurzrock, who added that the technology can be used to produce inclusions for ice cream and frozen desserts and to produce cereal products.
In fact, next month ReGrained is launching a product with Doughp, a female-founded edible cookie dough brand.
The company has several other projects in its pipeline including plans to launch a line of baking mixes to show consumers how versatile its ingredient can be in home baking applications.
While exciting to launch its own product lines under the ReGrained name, Kurzrock stressed that the company is really focused on the B2B ingredient opportunity.
“We’re an ingredient company that has consumer products… by design, our consumer products are what have gotten attention over the last couple of years,” he said.
“However, it’s much more interesting to us to supply these ingredients to other companies that are already marketing, distributing, and selling these products at scale.”
It may take longer to get these products to market in some cases as ReGrained must follow another company’s R&D timeline rather than its fast-acting startup approach, but once launched, the opportunity and impact is often greater, noted Kurzrock.
For instance, ReGrained is currently working on a private label collaboration with an undisclosed major and will launch a finished baked good product using SuperGrain+.
“This product will go from zero to being in a few thousand stores once it launches,” he said.
Funding approach: Aligning stakeholders and shareholders
ReGrained has been fairly nontraditional in how it has raised money (i.e. not seeking founding from typical venture capital firms or following traditional ‘letter of the alphabet’ fundraises), said Kurzrock.
“A lot of that is because our model is really focused on the food system at large, and we believe strategically that if we can align our stakeholders as shareholders from the supply chain to the shopping cart that we can be lined up for success,” he said.
Following this strategy, ReGrained has done equity crowdfunding (raising over $700,000) and also secured funding from food distributor Griffith Foods and Barilla.
Most recently, ReGrained entered into a strategic partnership and mission-aligned investment with Japanese publicly traded online food retailer, Oisix ra Daichi Inc.
“Part of Oisix’s model is to bring in products from the US and sell them to the Japanese consumer, but the bigger idea is to take this platform that we’ve created here and bring it to Japan (where a tremendous amount of beer is made) to create a larger market for upcycled foods,” added Kurzrock.