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How Anheuser-Busch InBev is recycling ‘high-quality protein’ from beer brewing

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  • BUD
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U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry stoked controversy earlier this month when he told CNBC that private sector investment “has the ability to win the battle” over climate change, setting off a debate about what to expect from funds and corporations in the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The discussion coincided with an investor event at Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), the world’s largest beer maker, which announced on Monday a redoubling of its efforts to recycle barley protein from its brewing process that can be used in plant-based products.

In a new interview, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris detailed the latest on the venture, which includes millions in new investment and a project that has begun to repurpose the protein for enhanced bread, pasta, and milk products.

“We are the largest buyer and fermenter of malt globally,” Doukeris says. “Upstream, we have 20,000 farmers.”

“Up until a few years ago, what we did was take this barley malt, ferment, and produce beer. In the fermentation process, the yeast takes all the starch or the carbohydrates from the barley and leaves the grain that is very rich in protein and fibers,” he says.

“Through technology, especially biotech technology, we were able to do a separation with the fiber and the protein, and now we have an amazing amount of protein — that is very high-quality protein without any carbohydrates — that we can sell.”

EverGrain, a company backed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, announced in March the building of a $100 million facility for protein production on the brewer’s campus in St. Louis, Missouri.

A worker checks beer quality at Anheuser-Busch InBev brewery in Leuven, Belgium November 25, 2019. Picture taken November 25, 2019.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
A worker checks beer quality at Anheuser-Busch InBev brewery in Leuven, Belgium November 25, 2019. Picture taken November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Doukeris also noted a separate facility in Belgium that will facilitate the process.

“These two big investments come to life next year,” Doukeris said.

As of last year, EverGrain has operated a relatively small $15 million facility at the brewer’s location in Newark, New Jersey, which Doukeris described as a “pilot project.”

The company has already begun to “commercialize the product,” Doukeris added, saying it plans to take the protein to large companies in the U.S. and Europe.

The process takes part in an approach to sustainability known as upcycling, which transforms a discarded or low-value product into a more useful commodity.

Doukeris detailed new products that will include the repurposed protein.

“They go through bread production, pasta production, these enhanced milks with protein, and a lot of other possibilities," he says. "They open by the same resources that we were using before, but now using technology to transform these into higher value.”

“These byproducts we were either giving away or selling at very low cost for people that put together food for cows or other animals,” he adds.

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