Upcycling brewers' yeast for an alt protein source boasting ‘unparalleled nutritional quality’
Perhaps the most well-known by-product of the brewing process that can bring multiple benefits to food product formulations is spent grain, which makes up around 85% of brewing waste.
But there’s another by-product on the radar of new ingredient watchers which offers an elegant way of making use of ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption: brewers’ yeast. Its problem though is that it lacks the pleasant nutty aroma of spent grain. Removing the bitterness takes a bit of coaxing.
France’s Yeasty, however, claims to have developed ‘the most complete protein ingredient on the market’ from unused brewer's yeast, whose full potential can now be unlocked through a unique technological innovation: the elimination of bitterness.
The journey started in a AgroParisTech lab in 2020 where students and eventual Yeasty co-founders Nikola Stefanovic and Mathieu Durand began to look for a way to get rid of the bitterness of brewer’s yeast.
Yeasty's ingredient meets two challenges, it said. For brewers, it is a chance to value a raw material that is unused and a source of environmental and economic costs. For manufacturers, it is a unique opportunity to identify a better source of protein.
According to the third founder Juan Londono, the ingredient boasts a protein content of over 50% with all essential amino acids and a PDCAAS of 1.0. “It also contains 15% fibers, and it is rich in vitamins (Bs) and minerals zinc, magnesium and iron,” he said. In terms of texture, it has “interesting gelation properties”, he told us, “that bring bite and thickness to meat or cheese analogues for instance”.
Not to be confused with nutritional yeast, which is taste-free, not upcycled and with a high price point among plant proteins, Yeasty’s ingredient is a “rich solution that combines nutritional qualities, taste, sustainability, and accessibility”. The yeast is sourced directly from brewers, explained Londono. “we offer a full yeast recovery service. Numbers are hard to get, but large breweries can produce more than 20,000 tons of yeast/year.”
The company has closed a €1.4M financing round which it said will allow it to industrialise the production of samples that will enable food manufacturers to start testing recipes such as meat alternatives, pasta, high-protein biscuits, sports bars and shakes as well as the bread, protein starches, biscuits, alternative cheeses and eggs markets.
The company's objective for 2025 is to build a first industrial site with an annual capacity of 5,000 tons. Its process can be easily scaled through existing equipment and infrastructure, insisted Londono. “We will size based on demand but we target: 100 tons for pre-industrial site in 2024, 5,000 tons for our first plant by the end of 2025/beginning 2026. Those numbers could be increased if we reach outstanding demand.
"Yeasty aims at becoming a leader in the alternative protein market by democratising the most complete ingredient, with a low impact. Thanks to our unique technology, we are bringing value to an abundant by-product, and with the support of our investors, we will be able to accelerate our growth.”
Bérengère Lehembre at Asterion Ventures, which led the fundraise, said: "Asterion's raison d'être, which brings together hundreds of French tech investors, is to finance and support start-ups that combine ambition and environmental impact. We are convinced of Yeasty's enormous potential, which corresponds in every way to our thesis.”