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EverGrain CEO on revolutionizing the use of barley

Sustainable ingredient company EverGrain is introducing protein and fiber barley-based ingredients for its food and beverages. EverGrain CEO Gregory Belt joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Anheuser-Busch InBev looking to put the spent barley it normally uses in the beer-making process to upscale new barley-based drinks and snacks through a new partnership startup its backing called EverGrain. Joining us now on the sustainability push in the barley space is EverGrain CEO Gregory Belt joins us now.

And, Gregory, appreciate you coming on here. When we talk about barley-- correct me if I'm wrong, because it is interesting to see efforts to use that spent barley. I imagine at scale you can get more out of it than what's currently being used, as I understand it, to go unprocessed into animal feed or fertilizer, correct?

GREGORY BELT: Yeah, that's correct. So Anhueser-Busch has over 1.4 million metric tons of underutilized barley. So kind of a Beer 101, barley goes into a brewery, the brewers do an awesome job of removing the starch, and what's left over is the golden remainder. High protein and high fiber.

And EverGrain, we gently transform that great source of nutrition into ingredients to make plant-based products taste better, make them healthier, and more sustainable.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Gregory, this is Emily. I'm wondering, how does barley protein compare to existing plant-based protein substitutes-- or meat substitutes, I should say-- like pea protein or soy, when it comes to both nutrition and versatility of adding them to different foods?

GREGORY BELT: Yeah, absolutely, Emily. So barley protein is unique. First of all, it has a very neutral taste, like when you have a beer. When you taste beer, you mainly taste the spice of beer, which is hops. The barley that's in beer is largely, like, a supporting actor or actress. And so our ingredients taste very, very neutral. They taste great.

So when you add them into a formula, it lets the intended flavor, whether it be strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, really shine through. And the second thing that is maybe unique within the plant-based world is-- many people are familiar with, perhaps, a chalky taste in regards to plant protein.

Where barley protein is unique, it's highly soluble. So you could have a glass of iced tea put, your barley protein in, and not even-- and stir it up and not even know that it's there. So the texture is quite good. And then the quality is also quite good. It's a natural complement in terms of amino acid profile to pea and to soy.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah. So, I mean, when we think about consumer applications here, it seems like you've made the most headwinds in the current use case and take to a plant-based barley milk line that's available--

GREGORY BELT: That's correct.

ZACK GUZMAN: --for purchase here. So what's kind of the next step and iteration for barley products?

GREGORY BELT: Yeah. So I think you'll see barley products in a number of different applications outside of just barley milk. So, obviously, protein bars, ready-to-mix powders, but also in, like, everyday products. Everyday products that we love and enjoy like bread and like pasta, where maybe we feel a little bit of guilt for eating them.

When you incorporate EverGrain's ingredients into them, we can add protein and high fiber. And we can take a regular bread and turn it into, like, a sports bread or a regular pasta into a high protein, high fiber enjoyable meal without impacting taste at all. So you'll see barley across a lot of different applications here in the future.

EMILY MCCORMICK: And just in terms of your existing customer relationships and future ones, where do you expect to really get this barley protein plant-based substitute actually into? In terms of stores, restaurants, what's the goal there?

GREGORY BELT: Yeah. So we are working with small and medium-sized companies, startups that are launching plant-based milks like Take Two. But, also, we're working with large companies like a Garden of Life, which is a business unit of Nestle, to launch a barley protein powder.

We're working with Nomad incorporating our nutritional flour to launch a vegan potpie in the UK. So coming to grocery stores here very, very soon.