USA: AB InBev turns spent grain into a natural drink

In an effort to use at least some of the huge amounts of spent grain produced each year at its 12 large-scale U.S. breweries, AB InBev has developed via its subsidiary ZX Ventures a new process to transform the leftovers from the brewing process into a non-alcoholic drinkable product. The product called Canvas Barley Milk is composed of about 50% spent grain isolate, which is produced in a  lactic acid fermentation process similar to kimchi or kombucha, with the rest being cashew milk, coconut milk, pea protein isolate, chicory root extract and natural flavors like chai spice, cocoa powder and sea salt.

The product concept of Canvas Barley Milk was developed last summer within Zx Ventures’ internal accelerator Zxlerator, a three month program that explores how to develop internally-generated ideas into fully formed, launch-ready businesses.

The product, which is described as holistic, all-encompassing nourishment with a strong sustainability message, contains as much as 13 grams of dietary fiber and 10 grams of protein per 12 oz. bottle. It is being produced out of a shipping container, which is installed in one of AB InBev's breweries, in order to start the fermentation process immediately after the perishable spent grain is being produced.

Canvas Barley Milk will come in five flavors, including Original, Cocoa , Cold Brew Latte, Turmeric Chai and Matcha and will be sold at a suggested retail price of $4.99 when it hits stores in fall 2017. The product is pasteurized, requires refrigeration and will have a 90-day shelf life. It will be sold through AB InBev’s distribution network but will also be available in additional sales channels because of its unique product properties. “We’re going to have to go outside of AB’s distribution in certain ways, but they are also our biggest partner,” said Sarah E. Pool, co-founder and CEO of Canvas.

Canvas as a company was founded earlier this year in New York by Sarah Pool, former president of organic snack company Pacific Superfood Snacks, and Jason Stamm, former Global Craft Supply & Innovation Director at AB InBev and since January 2017 responsible for exploration at ZX Ventures.

In order to raise awareness for the product and the company Canvas has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on August 1 with a goal of raising $25,000 that has already exceeded $40,000.

“We’ve been working obsessively to create the most nourishing, tasty, and convenient plant-based beverage we’ve ever tried,” said Pool. “The beverage is a new frontier in sustainable nourishment, and we could not be more excited to introduce it to our growing community. We could work with any brewery, that’s what is so exciting about the process and the technology that’s been developed,” said Pool. And she added that the Canvas production container could be placed “at any brewery around the world and be saving the grain.”

US breweries produce about 8 billion pounds (3.6m tons) of spent grain every year. Despite its name, spent grain still contains a lot of fiber and proteins and is mostly sold to farmers for use as animal feed.

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