30 May 2022

The Kiwi company making crackers from recycled beer grains

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 30 May 2022

A New Zealand cracker made with spent grain from breweries has been named one of the world's top 50 healthy snacks.

Lower Hutt food company Rutherford & Meyer is the first Kiwi producer to use upcycling in a range of products sold nationwide in supermarkets.

Before upcycling was a 'thing', Canterbury farming friends Alison Meyer and Gaye Rutherford used excess summer fruits to make fruit paste, and in 1996, they co-founded Rutherford & Meyer.

The company - now led by Alison's daughter Jan and her husband Russell Coventry - is continuing to combat waste by making a range of crackers and grain crisps with the excess grain from beer production, Jan tells Kathryn Ryan.

Brewers usually use between 4 and 7 kilos of grain to produce 21 litres of beer, and afterwards, the spent grain usually becomes animal feed or goes into landfills, she says.

The grain, which is "very high in fibre, which is great for the gut, very high in protein and also flavoursome", is delivered wet from breweries, brought back to the Rutherford & Meyer factory and put through a unique drying process before being ground up and made it into food products.

Their Upcycled Grain Project range contains 12 to 40 percent spent grain as well as some wheat flour for binding, Jan says.

"Worldwide, grain is in shortage… so I love the fact that we're using it twice. And also it's about reducing the carbon emissions, which we think is neat. This product is getting used twice so we're not having to use water to grow it. The farmer is not having to re-plough the fields again to re-grow the grain."

Upcycled Grain Project currently sells two flavours of cracker - Sea Salt and Parmesan - and four flavours of grain crisps - Raisin & Rosemary, Cranberry & Coconut, Orange & Sesame and Fig & Cardamom.

Soon they'll also start selling bags of dried grain that people can use for baking at home, Jan says, and sharing recipe ideas via social media.

"Pretty much anything that has flour in it can have some of the flour taken out and have this upcycled rescued grain put back into the product - pizza doughs, bread, cakes, muffins, that type of thing."