During happy hour at 612Brew on Feb. 18, NETZRO showcased an array of upcycled samples made from spent grain from local breweries. Fresco’s Foods provided food which included cheesy jalapeño pretzel knots made from HammerHeart Brewery wheat, 612Brew beer Swiss cheese dip, pretzel twists made from Invictus Brewery wheat and Tattersall honey cornbread.
The brewing process extracts sugars but leaves behind proteins.
“If you are into breweries, you may have eaten a cookie or given your dog a treat with upcycled ingredients already,” stated CEO and founder Sue Marshall. Minnesota born and raised, Marshall started NETZRO in January of 2015 with the idea to feed more people without having to grow more food. Seeing a gap in the food supply chain, she focused energy into the large amount of waste that comes from food manufacturing.
Based in downtown Minneapolis, they have a laboratory in Lino Lakes.
“I first started working with the waste from eggshells. The membrane is an extremely useful byproduct. Many people wouldn’t know that 50 tons of shells a day are wasted in Iowa alone,” she said. “I really wanted to look at these problems and solve the entire problem. Instead of taking a little bit of the shell, I wanted to take all of it.”
Already having the technology available to her, Marshall needed to transfer it to the food world, killing pathogens without burning away the “good stuff,” making useful end products used in food production, nutraceuticals and industrial products.
Along with eggshells, mixed food waste, fruits and vegetables, NETZRO also upcycles spent grain from breweries. A small brewery can have around 4,000 pounds of spent grain leave their facility each week. Not only is this a massive amount of waste, but it costs money to dispose of because options are limited. By working with
NETZRO, businesses such as Tattersall Distilling, Invictus Brewing Co and Utepils Brewing are able to obtain a sustainable and financially smart solution.
Once the grain has been used, NETZRO recovers and restores grain on site at its facilities in south Minneapolis. “These reharvested ingredients have a high nutritional value, being high in protein and low in sugar,” Marshall said. This product is then prepared to purchasers’ needs. As a relatively new industry, with the demand for these products growing, more companies want to experiment with sustainable ingredients to match buyer trends and brand awareness.
“By working with these businesses and having events such as these we are able to provide education on the process, which I always wanted since day one. Breweries are full of loyal customers with sustainability in mind. We love it.” stated Marshall.
As the industry for upcycled food grows, more partnerships with NETZRO are anticipated. “We love being a part of Northeast. The vibe of the local community and their support is amazing, everyone here understands good food!” said Marshall when asked about the future of the company.
She continued, “I have been all over the country and no other state has all the spokes like we do. Minnesota has it all in this industry.”
Below: NETZRO Staff from right to left: Lynn Herbert (COO), Garrick Villaume (CSTO), Sue Marshall (Founder & CEO), and at far right, Mark Payne (Acting CFO). (Photos by Holland Lind)