MaGie Creations joins Upcycling Community. ‘You can’t develop a new market on your own.’
Foodvalley NL is starting an Upcycling Community. It will be a safe environment where companies that are (planning on) upcyling food can partner up on ideas and find inspiration from each other. One of the first partners is MaGie Creations.
Founder Madeleine Gielens likes thinking big. When the municipality of The Hague asked her in 2017 to develop a plan for upcycling brewer’s grain she quickly decided the approach should be nationwide. “It’s only achievable on a big scale.”
The potential of brewer’s grain is huge enough, she discovered. “There are 560 kilotons of brewer’s grain available in the Netherlands every year”, says Gielens. She already started to upcycle a small percentage of that into baker’s flour, brownies and cereal bars. But to process all the available grain, she envisions a whole new food chain. Something she isn’t going to establish on her own.
That’s why she’s happy with the Upcycling Community. “We need to develop a market with all of us together. The community should embrace a completely new product.” This requires active involvement from companies that take up different places in the food value chain. “We produce the ingredient, so we’re at the very beginning of the chain”, says Gielens. “Next to that you also need a beer grain supplier, a producer of food like mixed ingredients, the bakery industry and retailers. If they all stand up and stand strong, it can be done.”
With brewer’s grain this is still quite a challenge. The 560 kilotons that are released every year start deteriorating in quality within 24 hours. MaGie Creations can stabilize and mill the grain into a sort of flour with a longer shelf life. Flour sounds familiar for bakers, but they still need to learn what is and what’s not possible with the brewer’s grain variant. “Because the grain has already been treated, the sugars and starches are greatly reduced. What remains are the fibers and proteins. Those are of course the healthy components, but the new composition does make the flour function differently in dough than bakers are used to.”
MaGie Creations joined Foodvalley NL in 2020. Gielens: “They helped me a lot with a very hands-on approach, joining conversations we had with potential partners.” It was the reason Gielens became a partner of Foodvalley NL and has high expectations of the Upcycling Community too. Doesn’t she see other companies in the same sector as competitors? “No”, says Gielens. “The potential market is huge. Let’s first join forces in development.”
Under its own brand Brewlicious MaGie Creations now produces cereal bars, crackers and various bakery products. The company is planning on its own pilot factory that will convert 10 kilotons of brewer’s grain into flour. A full-size factory could process up to 50 kilotons of brewer’s grain per year, Gielens envisions. “But that is still just one tenth of what the Netherlands has to offer. Belgium and Germany release even more brewer’s grain. We have a lot of work to do. Especially if you consider that our livestock is shrinking, while other bio streams are being upgraded into animal feed.”
Gielens hopes that more companies from other parts of the new brewers' grain chain will join the Upcycling Community. Cooperation with upcyclers of other food would also be nice, although their challenges are probably very different. Brewer’s grain is for instance not hindered by laws that other food upcyclers are struggling with. “The grain is already accepted as an ingredient by the EU. The biggest challenge with brewer’s grain is that still nobody knows it, let alone uses it. That’s why we first need to develop a market together.”
Questions? Get in touch
Jolijn Zwart- van Kessel
Innovation Lead Circular Agrifood
+31 6 82096140
About our Upcycling Community
The Upcyling Community is set up to provide upcyclers of food with the right support, creating a mix of cross-sectoral organisations working on the same topic. The community will organise community sessions and keep partners informed on the latest news, insights and initiatives.