There’s a lot to consider when buying products for your animals, and as pet parents become more health-focused and sustainable, it becomes harder to find brands that perfectly align with those standards.
That’s why Prudent Pet was thrilled to befriend sustainable company “Spent Group” last year. We included their delicious RawDawg treats in our holiday giveaway, but were eager to share more about this innovative brand with our loving community.
We spoke with Taylor Schaub from Spent Group to learn how the company is turning otherwise wasted byproduct into tasty canine snacks.
How did Spent Group get started, and what is the driving force behind it?
SCHAUB: Spent Group is a company focused on understanding the impacts of upcycling organic material byproducts and other spent resources that are underutilized. We are a team dedicated to identifying materials that can have an undesired ripple effect on the environment or economy and collaborate with others to mitigate the impact. We choose strategies that claim the highest and best use for a resource and strategies that engage to help or involve the community.
Our purpose is to learn alongside others while caring for our one and only environment. Spent Group started by learning about the world of beer brewers spent grain — a resource that is produced by the millions of tons and sent to landfills where methane is released into the air during its long-term decomposition.
We continuously meet with local brewers and conduct internal research to dissect how we can benefit everyone involved. It’s lead us to connect with other organic products that have similar byproducts; such as the loose fermented tea from Kombucha, an unsellable byproduct from a stone flour mill, and unused meat from small-scale animal farms.
What is ‘spent grain’ and where does it come from?
SCHAUB: Spent grain makes up about 85% of a beer brewer’s byproduct. In the process of brewing beer, a main component is the malted barley grain, typically called “mash”. Water is added to begin the first steps of brewing. After processing, the liquid goes through a few other sequences, like adding the hops, filtering, and fermenting. The grain is removed early on from this process as it is no longer needed — and from then on is referred to as “spent” grain!
Currently, spent grain can be used to provide feed for livestock or composting, as well as some small-scale post-production of the grain such as baking bread products. We have found a lot of value and potential opportunity with this byproduct and have been excited to work toward an industry standard of spent grain mitigation practice.
Does spent grain have any health benefits?
SCHAUB: Spent grain does have health benefits! It has a high protein and fiber content among other beneficial nutrients. It’s calorically dense as well, so it also has the benefit of long-term sustenance.
Why did Spent Group choose dog treats as the first venture into utilizing byproduct?
SCHAUB: We had many ideas to start exploring uses for spent grain — an overwhelming amount! We realized dog treats were a tangible option that had a lovely dual-purpose: we could work with a community of people dedicated to animals (and beer, too!) and we could even engage with dogs along the way!
Since the first batch of dog treats we haven’t looked back and are grateful to be well-received by dog owners and their pups! Our transparency has helped us communicate about different dog nutrition topics with owners. We crafted healthy treats owners could confidently feed their precious dogs.
Knowing what products are in pet food is a positive trend we’ve fallen into. RawDawg treats are made of peanut butter and two perfectly good byproducts. That has been key in communicating the importance of these treats on a larger scale, while engaging individual dogs and owners to strengthen their community through conversation.
Does Spent Group have any upcoming ventures, aside from RawDawg?
SCHAUB: We are highly passionate surrounding the conversation of brewers spent grain and right now, so that is our main focus. But we do have some small conversations are in the works to explore composting the grain with other byproducts.
As 2020 kicks off, can you share with us any developments with RawDawg?
SCHAUB: It’s in our interest to see how we can make RawDawg a platform for these larger conversations about the environment, and in doing so evaluating our current treat-making to become even more sustainable. The addition of other treat flavors is in the conversation too!
The current RawDawg Original treats are a classic peanut butter pup-favorite, but we have an inkling there are other byproducts we can use to diversify the flavors for our beloved friends.
We look forward to attending festivals, markets, and dog events throughout Chicago in the upcoming year and hanging out with owners and their tail-wagging companions!
You can support Spent Group’s sustainable mission by purchasing RawDawg peanut butter treats.