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Anheuser-Busch InBev – the beverage conglomerate that owns brands including Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Goose Island, Golden Road, Peroni, and dozens of others – is considered the largest brewing company in the world. Which means they’ve got a lot of spent gain on their hands – and a whole lot of knowledge about fermentation. At a recent investor meeting, AB InBev execs announced plans to put those resources to use, developing plant-based protein products for a variety of applications
As Food & Wine reports, the corporation has been working with and funding a startup called EverGrain which purports to have “developed the technology to extract proteins and fibers from our saved grains, and create nutritionally rich ingredients.” EverGrain has already started selling those ingredients for use by other companies in protein shakes, barley milk, and other products, and expects to expand dramatically with the opening of a new, dedicated processing facility in March of 2022.
Looking further into the future, AB InBev’s internal business incubator program, ZX Ventures, is also backing a company called BioBrew which – while currently “still in exploratory spaces” – has designs to use biotech and fermentation knowledge and infrastructure from the brewing giant to create new protein products to serve global demand.
“You can ferment any type of protein. So we started more milk-related products, but, you know, the opportunities are huge,” ZX Ventures head Bernardo Novick told investors. “The application of biotechnology to food and beverage is expected to be a massive opportunity in the next 10 to 20 years. And the market for alternative fermented protein alone is estimated to reach $22 billion by 2035.”
While the corporation’s immediate focus is on profit, CEO Michel Doukeris attempted to also position the plant-protein initiatives in a context of social responsibility, noting that he sees “an opportunity to combine our brewing infrastructure and expertise with biotech advancements to help address increasing global food and sustainability challenges.”