While the new products are designed to give Soylent’s existing customers more options, Soylent founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart told FoodNavigator-USA, they are also designed to attract new consumers to the Soylent franchise and deliver incremental growth to the Los Angeles-based business, which specializes in creating products offering ‘complete nutrition.’
Coffiest is basically Soylent 2.0 with added coffee powder, (150mg caffeine) natural coffee flavor and l-theanine (75mg), with each 414ml bottle offering 400 calories (including 20% of the daily values of all essential vitamins and minerals and a macronutrient profile of 47% calories from lipids, 33% calories from carbohydrates and 20% calories from protein).
Coffiest: Each bottle has 400 calories and 150 mg caffeine, 75mg l-theanine
A 12-pack* of Coffiest can be purchased online at www.soylent.com in the U.S. and Canada for $37.05 per case for subscribers and $39 per case for one-time orders (just slightly more expensive than Soylent 2.0, which is $34 for a 12-pack for one time orders), and will be available on Amazon shortly.
“I think this will bring in a lot of new consumers and give 2.0 users some more options,” said Rhinehart. “We’ve tested Coffiest pretty extensively through the beta program – a select group of soylent consumers that we share new concepts with - although in the future we are going to get more rigorous and do additional and wider consumer testing.”
So why coffee?
“People have been asking us for more variety for some time, and coffee is something that’s been brewing in my mind for a while as I often had a bottle of soylent with my cup of morning coffee and thought why not combine the two,” said Rhinehart, who noted that breakfast was a key usage occasion for Soylent.
“Adding nootropics like caffeine helps you stay focused and alert while l-theanine prevents you getting the jitteriness you can get with caffeine.”
The new vegan Soylent Bar – which will follow shortly – will also offer complete nutrition, but in a 250-calorie format with a macronutrient breakdown of 38% calories from lipids, 43% calories from carbohydrates, and 19% calories from protein, providing one eighth of an average adult’s recommended dietary needs, he said.
“It’s got a nice doughy texture with a little bit of crispiness and salted caramel flavor.”
Soylent - which tends to be a fairly polarizing brand (one skeptic described it as “only slightly more appealing than an IV bag,” while loyal fans can be evangelical about it ) – is often billed as something that time-starved code monkeys in Silicon Valley are subsisting on, 24-7, 365-days a year.
However, as the wording on the packaging makes clear, Soylent does not expect its customers to eat nothing else from now until the end of time: “While not intended to replace every meal, Soylent can replace any meal.”
On the pro-GMO blog post: ‘Consumers appreciate that we’re not just blindly following a trend’
Asked what kind of reaction Soylent had had to a recent blog post entitled ‘Soylent: Proudly Made with GMOs,’ Rhinehart said he had been “thrilled” by the “strong words of support we've had from the scientific community,” while some industry stakeholders had found it refreshing that Soylent had reviewed the evidence and come to its own conclusions, instead of simply assuming that non-GMO is safer, healthier or greener.
“I think it’s unwise for brands to follow trends without looking at the science," added Rhinehart. "I think consumers appreciate that we’re not just blindly following a trend and that we really think about our sourcing policies."
GMOs and consumer survey data
While survey data shows that many consumers are concerned about GMOs and most want them labeled, research also shows that most people don't know what GMOs are, he said.
“I also saw a survey saying that 80% of consumers want DNA labeled [which would mean labels on almost everything edible given that DNA is present in the cells of all living organisms including plants and animals, although it can be degraded by heat and other processes], which shows you that it’s going to take time to educate people, but we are willing to do that.”
As to how Soylent's fans had responded to the blog post, itsconsumer base is “relatively scientifically savvy,” he said.
“But I feel that most people don’t have a strong opinion [on GMOs] either way, we are spending too much time listening to the vocal minority.”
Amazon launch a success: ‘We’ve been doing incredible volumes through the channel’
Asked how Soylent’s recent debut on Amazon Launchpad had gone, he said: “Amazon’s been an incredible channel for us. We’ve quickly become a best seller and they are going to help us expand faster than originally forecast.
“We’ve been doing incredible volumes through the channel already and we’re working on further distribution expansion through other e-commerce and traditional retail channels.”
*For every case of Coffiest or Soylent Bar sold, Soylent will donate one meal to World Food Program USA a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. that builds U.S. support and resources for the World Food Programme, the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.