Photo: Catherine Lamb

HG Ventures today announced a $2.5 million seed round investment in food upcycling company, Renewal Mill.

My colleague, Catherine Lamb spotted Renewal Mill at the recent Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, and described their business in a post, writing:

The Oakland-based company works with Hodo Foods, an organic tofu producer, to source their soybean pulp, which they dry and blitz to make a gluten-free, high-fiber flour. Renewal Mill sells the flour wholesale to CPG companies and direct to consumer through Imperfect Produce (in some regions).

A press release from HG Ventures says Renewal Mill will use the funding to scale production and expand into new markets. Prior to the HG investment, Renewal Mill was part of the TechStars Farm to Fork Accelerator and secured a joint R&D project with Cargill.

Upcycling is on the upswing, and a number of companies are putting leftover edible byproducts that would be destined for animal feed or landfill to good (tasting) use. Also at the Fancy Food show was Soulmuch, which upcycles juice pulp, coffee grounds and leftover rice and quinoa into cookies. Pulp Pantry turns leftover pulp from juicing companies into plant-based granola and veggie thins. And Render turns leftover whey and pickle juice brine into upcycled beverages.

But it’s not just smaller startups seeing potential gold in what used to be considered garbage. BIG CHICKEN co. Tyson Foods crowdfunded the launch of Yappah! “Protein Crisps” made from chicken breast trim and spent grain from beer brewing.

Renewal Mill is also on the forefront of another new trend, alterna-flours. Gold Medal is getting some competition for your baking dollars as new sources of flour including defatted sunflower seeds and crickets (yes, the insect) come to market.

Considering that sales of tofu rose 11 percent last year to hit $108 million, Renewal will no doubt have plenty of leftover grist for their Mill.

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