When broadline foodservice distributor US Foods Holding Corp., introduced as many as 18 “Spring Scoop” products this March, it embraced the theme, “Do More with Less” and emphasized versatile items to help operator customers manage labor shortages and other operational challenges.

Speaking of doing more, US Foods’ R&D team members also consider new product enhancements that appeal restaurant consumer patrons. The company embraces a “Serve Good” program dedicated to responsibly sourced products. Included in this year’s Spring Scoop portfolio was a Hilltop Hearth Pub Grain Hamburger Bun made with a flour from brewers’ spent grains. The new bun debuted in March 2022 and is one of the first foodservice products certified by the Upcycled Food Association (UFA). The bun flour consists of brewers’ spent barley, wheat, and rye grains and officials say the resulting bun has a “traditional dense crumb texture with mild earthy and sour notes.”

US Foods Hilltop Hearth Pub Grain Hamburger Bun
US Foods’ Hilltop Hearth Pub Grain Hamburger Bun will be one of six noteworthy new products showcased this August in Prepared Foods’ Spirit of Innovation Awards.
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The product’s taste and sustainability story made it a 2021-2002 Prepared Foods Spirit of Innovation winner (“Judges’ Selection”) and it will be recognized this August 9 from 11am-1pm EST in an industrywide webcast awards ceremony.

Upcycled Certified!
Since its 2019 start, non-profit UFA has worked with ingredient companies, food and beverage processors, retailers and others to save and incorporate ingredients, byproducts or other foodstuffs that normally would have gone to landfills.

US Foods’ upcycling story dates back to 2020, when it became one of the first major broad line foodservice distributors to join UFA.  In 2021, the company began to develop its first Upcycled Certified product, the Hilltop Hearth Pub Grain Hamburger Bun.

Stacey Kinkaid, US Foods vice president of product development and innovation, says developing the new bun was a labor of love.

“Getting the right balance of sweetness in the formulation proved to be quite challenging,” she notes. “Our US Foods product developers worked through many formulations until the balance was right. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for our upcycled spent grain flour to have slight differences between each batch. Meaning that one batch of spent grain flour may have more barley, while another may have slightly more rye. Carefully formulating our product to ensure a consistent look, taste and feel was an interesting challenge.”

Many months later, Kinkaid believes the effort was well worth it.

“Our Hilltop Hearth Pub Grain Hamburger Bun is our first Exclusive Brand Upcycled Certified offering that brings sustainability to the product and it delivers delicious flavor,” she says. “The bun is made with spent grain flour, a byproduct of the beer brewing process, which, along with a blend of barley, wheat, and rye results in is a bun with a traditional dense crumb texture with mild earthy and sour notes. It was particularly important that the bun have the right sour notes with just the right amount of sweetness to match the same taste a traditional flour bun offers.”