Retail

From Beer To Snack Bars: Using eCommerce To Upcycle Food

grain

When ReGrained Chief Grain Officer (CEO) and Co-Founder Daniel Kurzrock began brewing his own beer, he found that he was wasting food. He was using about a pound of grain for every six-pack of beer he made, which added up. And he thought he could do better than throwing it out. He came up with the idea to use the grain to make bread, and then he would sell that bread to friends while using the proceeds to brew beer for free. The original concept wasn’t super altruistic, but Kurzrock says the idea has grown into something bigger than he would have ever guessed.

Today, the company rescues the grain refined when beer is made (the brewing process takes the sugar out of the grain, which provides access to protein, fiber and micronutrients). It then upcycles the grain into its “SuperGrain+” flour that it incorporates into its ReGrained products. The company sells snack bars made with its grains, offering varieties like Honey Cinnamon IPA Immunity, Chocolate Coffee Stout Energy and Blueberry Sunflower Saison. The bar itself was developed to be a proof of concept to show that the company could produce something delicious and that people would like. It would also have it be an educational vehicle for “introducing a new ingredient to the world,” Kurzrock told PYMNTS in an interview.

The company’s bars feature the upcycled SuperGrain+ grain flour along with quinoa, brown rice, almond and some other superfood ingredients depending on the flavor, such as manuka honey and ginger. What the company wanted to do is make sustainability a “no-brainer,” Kurzrock said. In essence, the company is rescuing food that would have otherwise gone to lower use and promoting it to the best use by creating tasty and nutritious foods. It has a website on Shopify, which offers one-time purchases as well as subscriptions. (The company is also on Amazon where those two options are also available.) ReGrained also has some alternative eCommerce channels such as Imperfect Produce, which has boxes of fruits as well as vegetables that are cosmetically imperfect. On its eCommerce website, the company accepts credit cards, PayPal and Google Pay at checkout.

Each of the company’s bars uses its upcycled SuperGrain+ flour as the main ingredient. The company then crafted flavors around them to highlight certain functionalities. The immunity bar, for instance, contains manuka honey and turmeric. And the energy bar has not only coffee but the fruit, which Kurzrock says is a byproduct of production. It is an excellent source of antioxidants, he said, but also a good source of, say, caffeine. The antioxidant bar, on the other hand, features ginger as well as sunflower seeds, blueberries and cranberries. Customers can buy all three flavors through a variety pack on the company’s eCommerce website. Beyond its website, the company’s products are in brick-and-mortar retailers such as Whole Foods and Gelson’s Market, among others.

The Market

When it comes to the market for ReGrained, the company is targeting “people with active, healthy lifestyles,” Kurzrock said. It is finding a lot of success, as might be expected, with people like urban millennials, Kurzrock noted, and similar groups. But it is aiming to create something that is accessible to a broad audience. The idea is the company wanted to create a “truly delicious, unique” snack bar, Kurzrock said — something that is snackable and tasty. For promotion, the company is very active on social media and also has events.

Beyond ReGrained, other brands are reusing different ingredients and turning them into new products. Barnana, for instance, upcycles bananas and offers products such as plantain chips with flavors such as pink salt (among other varieties) for plantain chips. It also offers banana bites and banana brittle. Barnana says, citing SaveTheFood.com in saying that 40 percent of all food in the United States is wasted, and asserting, “That’s 40 percent too high if you ask us.” And Renewal Mill upcycles okara, which is harvested from the pulp of organic soybeans made at the time of soymilk production. It turns that product into “a nutritious, versatile flour that’s better for you and better for the planet!” per the company’s website. Both firms sell their products through the web.

With the help of eCommerce, food brands are aiming to connect consumers with upcycled ingredients turned into innovative products ranging from banana brittle to snack bars.

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