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Do Spent Grains Represent a Hidden Revenue Stream?

Rebecca Kern, an animal scientist who works with livestock producers, argues that brewers are missing out by viewing spent grains as waste instead of a “co-product.”

Rebecca Kern Jun 7, 2021 - 8 min read

Do Spent Grains Represent a Hidden Revenue Stream? Primary Image

Photo: Jamie Bogner

Just like making beer, producing ethanol results in multiple waste streams, one of which is “distillers’ grains.” This by-product started where brewers’ spent grains are today—being given away as a cheap feed, seen as a waste product by the industry. But ethanol producers have rebranded their spent grains as “co-products.” This language has helped the industry market their waste as a valuable feedstuff, and those grains now play a role in the revenue and profitability of ethanol plants, which typically have tight margins. They have become an in-demand livestock feed, and livestock producers have come to rely on them.

The brewing industry should take note of the ethanol industry’s successful marketing of these by-products to livestock producers.

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Rebecca Kern is an animal scientist with Ward Laboratories, member of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, and frequently consults with livestock producers.