With nearly eight years at BNP Media, parent company to Dairy Foods, I relish that there’s always something new and exciting to learn about the multifaceted food and beverage industry.

This especially rings true when covering trade shows, visiting cheese or ice cream processing plants, or when companies invite us to get a firsthand “look under the hood” at their ingredient and research and development (R&D) operations.

I was honored to be part of the first media team asked by St. Louis-based EverGrain by AB InBev to learn about its sustainable, plant-based ingredients that are revolutionizing the industry and to tour their full-scale barley protein production facility.

We were hosted by Greg Belt, founder, and CEO of EverGrain; Rob Haas, chief supply officer; Jacqueline Hochreiter, director of sustainability and marketing; and Rosa Sanchez, senior global director of R&D applications. Boulder, Colo.-based SRG, EverGrain’s marketing partner, had Amy Shipley, managing partner; Leanne Stone, account director; and Andrew Schneider, copywriter.

Founded in 2013 by now-CEO Greg Belt, EverGrain is a sustainable ingredient business created by Anheuser-Busch InBev to unlock every grain of potential out of beer’s byproducts — barley — to make a positive impact on people and the planet. The business partners with sports nutrition, beverage, and RTM/RTD manufacturers to provide barley-based protein ingredients.

“In a year, more than 6,000 tons of EverPro can be processed from barley that would have been used for cow feed or discarded. Instead, the ingredient in a powder form is providing a clean-label, natural protein with less sugar to promote muscle recovery, boost immunity, and more.”

Belt points out that EverGrain’s three-in-one EverPro Barley Protein delivers superior taste, superior nutrition, superior performance, and superior sustainability. EverPro is Upcycled Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified.

On the sustainability side, EverPro, the world’s only upcycled certified plant protein available at scale, is processed with a lower carbon footprint, and less land and water usage than any other, all because no additional acre of farmland was added to produce barley protein, Belt tells Dairy Foods.  

With a malty taste profile, EverPro softens other plant protein offnotes like bitterness, reducing the need for maskers and sweeteners, Sanchez says. Because tasting is believing, we sampled a blend of EverPro and Pea protein in a ready-to-mix chocolate drink that contained 22 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar in an 11-ounce beverage that tasted smooth and delicious. This blend is chosen to optimize taste and nutrition as pea and barley proteins not only balance each other out, they also complement each other for a complete protein.

The functionality of EverPro

Yet, as today’s consumers desire good taste, functionality remains a top pursuit.

In independent third-party testing, EverPro outperforms not only by the amount of protein offered (25 grams per 11-ounce serving with good solubility), it also contains high levels of all three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are important in boosting muscle growth and performance; the highest level of Glutamine, which is linked with reduced muscle fatigue and enhanced post-workout recovery; and the highest plant-based ingredient Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS).

Additionally, on the digestibility side, EverPro’s score is on par with whey and premium pea protein, and better than soy, the company states.

“In addition to supporting muscle recovery and helping boost performance for athletes or consumers who want to add more protein to their diets in an easy way, EverPro is a game-changer because of its high nutritional profile and the fact that it’s sustainably made using a beer byproduct,” Belt explains.

After lunch, we toured Anheuser-Busch and the EverGrain plant that officially opened in June 2022. While Belt and Chief Supply Officer Rob Haas looked at several locations, they ended up choosing a historic 1905 building on the grounds of AB InBev that was retrofitted to meet the needs of the ingredient supplier. For example, the extraction tanks were custom-built to fit snugly on the historic building’s second floor – and were installed through an opening carved from a few sets of third floor windows. It’s from this opening that you see the Brewers’ Spent Grain transfer pipe that connects Anheuser-Busch’s very first brewery, built over 140 years ago, and the newly renovated EverGrain protein facility.   

During the tour, we saw firsthand how the four steps of the Purification Process works. They are:

  • Extraction — A patented process is used to extract the rich source of protein from the brewers’ saved grain.
  • Decantation — The liquid protein is separated from the residual grain.
  • Microfiltration — First stage of filtration removes larger molecular weight particles from the liquid protein.
  • Nanofiltration — Second stage of filtration is the final polishing step, refining the sensory characteristics and concentrating the protein prior to spray drying

At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce more than 20 tons of upcycled barley protein grain daily, with monthly volume exceeding 500 tons of protein, Haas notes. In a year, more than 6,000 tons of EverPro can be processed from barley that would have been used for cow feed or discarded. Instead, the ingredient in a powder form is providing a clean-label, natural protein with less sugar to promote muscle recovery, boost immunity, and more.

While dozens of employees help ensure that EverGrain’s operations keep humming along 24/7, Haas notes that two sensory teams are ensuring the quality and consistency of the upcycled barley.

He points out that the upcycled ingredient has wide end-of-use applications, including sports drinks, dairy alternatives, plant-based milks, plant-based shakes, nutrition bars and waffles.

Interest in EverGrain and its sustainably made ingredients is growing. In late January, Osage Food Products, Washington, Mo., announced it will have a new line of optimized plant protein blends available for food and beverage manufacturers. Titled SolvPro Vegan Plant Protein Blends, the range combines different plant protein ingredients, powered by EverPro upcycled barley protein, into blends that give formulators, brands, and ultimately consumers more of what they crave: great taste, nutrition, and sustainability in their plant-based foods and beverage.

The SolvPro product line currently has six SKUs, each delivering a protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of 1.0 and offering different functionalities and benefits, the company says.

“The EverPro protein isolate is the key ingredient in our SolvPro 008 and 009 systems, in combination with pea protein isolate and with added masking agents, this new system delivers a complete plant protein with adequate levels of all the essential amino acids to deliver a PDCAAS of 1.0, equivalent to whey protein isolates,” says Bill Dickinson, president of Osage Food Products. “This system allows for a very high usage level and protein levels beyond anything currently on the market (greater than 30 grams per serving) with no thick viscosity, chalkiness, or off flavors.”