Superfrau upcycles liquid whey for energy drinks22 Dec 2022
US company Superfrau turns surplus whey into sustainable, upcycled-certified dairy products for the recovery drinks market.
The US brand produces an electrolyte recovery drink that aims to sit in the sustainable dairy product category. “We’re on a mission to fight food waste and climate change by offering unique and delicious products made with the surplus nutrition in our supply chain that would otherwise be wasted,” says Melissa Martinelli, co-founder and CEO of Superfrau.
Superfrau means Super Woman in German. While Superfrau does not categorise itself as a sports drink, per se, the brand has identified a white space in the energy drink category for products and brands that meet the needs of young female consumers, the brand states.
Reimagining ‘energy’ drinks
Over the last five years, Superfrau has undertaken research on its target market: Gen Z and millennials aged 20 to 35. The brand learned the demographic is prioritising sustainability, is willing to pay more for these products and is searching for healthy alternatives to soda and energy drinks. Simultaneously, its target audience is curious about global innovations and flavours.
Developing its formulation, Superfrau sought to stand out by avoiding the inclusion of any added sugar or sweeteners. Thus, replacing overly sweet or heavily caffeinated energy drinks. Superfrau infuses the fresh whey with its proprietary blend of fruit extracts before packaging it in recyclable bottles. By adopting this approach, Superfrau aims to help the sports drink market reach health-conscious consumers who are looking to hydrate without added sugar and artificial colours.
Image courtesy of Superfrau
Surplus whey stands out
Taking inspiration from the Austrian Alps and bringing it to the US, the brand began life in 2018 after Martinelli was “blown away by the taste and satisfaction of a popular drink in the Austrian Alps made with fresh whey”. Following its research, Superfrau found that the vitamins and minerals contained within whey are good for hydration, energy, and gut health.
In the US, less than half of the 100 billion pounds of whey generated every year are fully utilised, despite their vitamin and mineral content, Martinelli says. Therefore, Superfrau adopted a US take on the popular European drink, highlighting the naturally occurring benefits of liquid whey, such as its spectrum of electrolytes for hydration, zinc for immunity support, B vitamins for natural energy and gut-beneficial acids.
The food tech brand says it focuses on whey because of its taste, vitamin-and-nutrient-rich profile and proven nature in other markets, but also because of its vast abundance in the US and versatility. “There are so many things manufacturers could do with their surplus liquid whey to feed people valuable nutrition,” says Martinelli. “We are just getting started!”
Collaborating with cheese and yoghurt manufacturers
Superfrau primarily partners with Greek yoghurt manufacturers to capture their surplus liquid whey. The US producer repurposes this milk into nutrient-dense products.
Manufacturers heat the milk, add culture and let it ferment. While it ferments, it separates into curds (the yoghurt) and whey (Superfrau’s liquid). Both product ingredients contain vitamins and minerals essential for human health that sit within the unique offering of cultured and fermented dairy, Martinelli says.
As an Upcycled Certified product, Superfrau undergoes a third-party review to ensure a transparent supply chain that creates valuable products from nutritious ingredients, which, in current manufacturing processes, would typically go to waste.
“It has become a cost centre for many manufacturers that have to pay to have the heavy liquid hauled away and properly disposed of,” says Martinelli. “We see a great waste-to-value opportunity in the dairy supply chain to take an abundantly available and overlooked ingredient and make super delicious and nutritious products out of it,” Martinelli adds.
Greek yoghurt is thicker, which means more liquid whey is strained out than in typical yoghurt manufacturing, resulting in roughly two-three cups of liquid whey for every cup of Greek yoghurt. “The hard part is changing the currently existing supply chain from one that treats the whey as a pesky byproduct to one that maximises its versatility as a valuable co-product,” says Martinelli.
For its whey beverages, the brand infuses the liquid whey with complementary flavours, adding a lactase enzyme to break up the lactose, citric acid for pH balance and effervescence to mirror consumer demands.
Image courtesy of Superfrau
2023: Eyeing up expansion
“We have big plans for 2023,” says Martinelli. The brand is currently working with a distributor, which will enable it to expand into other regions of Whole Foods and various speciality retail chains as well as food service, conventional grocery and convenience stores.
With the ambition of becoming a leader in the upcycled food movement, the brand is exploring more flavours, formats and applications for surplus liquid whey.
Swedish food agency: One in 10 coffee brands contain excess acrylamide
7 Dec 2022
New findings from the Swedish Food Agency have revealed three of 29 coffee products sampled contained acrylamide above limits, reinforcing the link between levels and degree of roasting.Read more
Editor’s choice: Our roundup of the latest women’s health products around the world
2 Dec 2022
From botanicals to combat menopause symptoms to a hydration powder for mothers-to-be, here is our roundup of the most innovative new product launches within women’s health.Read more
The prize no brand wants to win: 2022’s most misleading products
28 Nov 2022
Food industry watchdog Foodwatch is asking consumers to vote for 2022’s most misleading product. A high-sugar vitamin water and “artisan” salad made with artificial additives are among the nominees.Read more
enduracarb®: A science-backed trehalose ingredient for athletic endurance
24 Nov 2022
enduracarb® is a science-backed, slow-acting carbohydrate that can power athletes’ performance. Produced using a high-purity production process, it is suitable for a wide variety of applications.Read more
China bans celebrity endorsement of health and formula foods
22 Nov 2022
China is to ban celebrity endorsement or advertising of certain products, completely banning high profile figures with “lapsed morals” as the country attempts to drive society towards “core socialist values”.Read more
MicroThermics’ Formulators Guide to Process Selection for Plant-Based Beverages
15 Nov 2022
Plant-based beverages & products are mainstream! Come to FIE booth 4D122 & read our whitepaper to see how processing in the lab at commercial HTST & UHT conditions gets you to market faster for less!Read more
PlantGuard™: Natural preservation solutions for clean-label products
11 Nov 2022
To respond to consumer demand for naturality and clean labels, Prinova has developed PlantGuard™, a 100% plant-based range which preserves the flavour, colour, and freshness of foods and beverages.Read more
Give your fermented protein drinks a clear head start
10 Nov 2022
Fermented protein beverages are rising in popularity as more consumers make efforts to strengthen their health and wellbeing. Made for the ready-to-drink segment, products such as kombucha and drinking yoghurt are gaining traction as healthier alternat...Read more
Enjoy it all: DSM talks taste, texture and health in the run up to FiE 2022
10 Nov 2022
Enhancing plant-based applications in taste, texture and health, addressing trending health priorities and introducing efficiency improving technologies – don’t miss the chance to meet DSM at FiE.Read more
Zero-waste water purification system looks to unsettle bottled water industry
7 Nov 2022
The bottled water industry is facing stiff competition from a raft of startups looking to reduce water and plastic waste as demanded by today’s sustainable-conscious consumer.Read more