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When oats are processed into oat milk, lots of protein is left behind — and often discarded.

A Minneapolis cereal company is putting those oats back into breakfast bowls.

Seven Sundays recently released a line of cereals using protein powder salvaged from oat milk in what might be the first cereal made with upcycled ingredients.

"The leftover product from producing oat milk has three times the protein, twice the fiber and significantly more nutrients compared to already nutritious whole rolled oats," said company founder Hannah Barnstable in a news release.

The protein powder comes from Eden Prairie-based SunOpta, a leading producer of plant-based milks. OatGold, as it is called, is the dried-out oat stock left after the starch-rich "milk" is extracted.

Upcycling — industry parlance for reusing discarded products and byproducts — is seen as a vital tool for fighting food waste and feeding a growing population. It demands less from the land and uses more of what is already cultivated and available. Other examples include turning spent grain from breweries into baked goods or keeping the rind on dried fruit chips.

Seven Sundays' new cereals are made with 45% upcycled ingredients and carry a "certified upcycled" logo on the packaging. The company became Minnesota's first food maker to achieve B corporation status in 2019. The certification means the company meets certain social and environmental standards.

At $8 per 8-ounce bag, the four varieties of upcycled cereals are priced higher than traditional ready-to-eat cereals, like Cheerios, which run about $5 for 18 ounces. A recent national survey showed environmental concerns continue to trail other decision-making factors for grocery shoppers.

This spring, about a third of Americans said sustainability is "highly impactful on their decisions to buy foods and beverages," according to the International Food Information Council. Taste, price, healthfulness and convenience all ranked much higher.

Still, another survey shared at Natural Products Expo West earlier this year showed two-thirds of shoppers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Whether they actually do, amid continued food inflation, is unclear.