Sated originally launched as a ‘mix-it-yourself’ protein drink to a niche keto devotee audience and due to constant consumer requests for an on-the-go packaged version, founder Ted Tieken launched the beverage in a RTD (ready-to-drink) format.
Sated contains milk protein isolate, olive oil, flax oil, coconut oil, and MCT oil.
“The current version of the shakes takes about 30 seconds to make and 30 seconds to clean up so it’s a minute difference and it’s not quite twice as expensive for the ready-to-drink version,” Tieken told FoodNavigator-USA.
“The way I like to explain it is: if you’re 30 seconds late for your bus in the mornings, that’s a complete disaster, so 30 seconds really can be something that’s worth paying for.”
The RTD Sated products took two years to develop, Tieken pointed out.
“The biggest challenge in shelf stable protein is that when you have protein and water together... microbes, that are dangerous to humans, grow,” he said.
“To get a commercially sterile product that is shelf-stable there are a few different technologies out there – the two most common are aseptic and retort.”
To make the formulation most like the ‘mix-it-yourself’ version that current consumers are familiar with, the company went with aseptic processing because of its minimal exposure to heat (roughly 90 seconds) and switched out Psyllium husk, its original gum stabilizer, for a combination of corn fiber and gellan to add back viscosity and mouthfeel as well as dietary fiber.
‘This is a meal replacement’
At 400 calories per carton, Tieken intends Sated to be a meal replacement beverage, and in most cases replacing breakfast and dinner.
Despite being solely keto-focused, Tieken believes that Sated is on a path to have the same market impact Soylent – which is not keto – has achieved as a nutritional, on-the-go meal replacement.
“We serve the same function but in mutually exclusive roles,” Tieken said.
“Are we a competitor to them right now? No we’re not. But in six months, once we’re shipping next day, I think we’ll be a real competitor of theirs.”
Its mix-it-yourself business is currently fulfilling 5,000 orders per month, and Tieken projects that its RTD product will surpass that milestone relatively quickly.
“We expect that RTD will between double and 10x our order volume,” he said.
While still in still in the direct-to-consumer channel with plans to be available outside of Kickstarter in early 2019 through its website, Tieken added brick-and-mortar is also on the radar.
“We’re in the process of hiring a head of sales and we will start the process of going bricks and mortar probably in about six months.”
Trend dynamics of keto
Though keto - a high fat, moderate protein and low carb diet - has gained some buzz recently, Tieken acknowledges that Sated will have to ride out the typical ebbs and flows of any trendy diet.
“I would say the keto diet is both a lifestyle and a trend, but I would have to be delusional at a level to not know there are trends dynamics at play,” he said.
The attention keto is receiving presently will drive growth over the short term with an anticipated dip further down the road but with an eventual healthy rebound, according to Tieken.
“We understand that trends happen, fads happen, things go on vogue and off vogue, and we’re preparing ourselves for both explosive growth up and then for the inevitable 50% contraction year,” he added.
“We’re not going to commit the mistake of drawing the hockey stick out into infinity. We’re not going to invest as if 100% of people in the world are ever going to follow keto.”
Despite this cautious forecast, Tieken said that the keto is evolving into a long-term lifestyle as many consumers are following the high-fat diet to not only lose weight but to treat other chronic illnesses (despite the lack of scientific research).
“I would say the keto diet is both a lifestyle and a trend. I think there’s the long-term use of the diet,” he said.
The company conducted a 4,000-person survey which found that 80% of those who follow the keto diet don’t intend to ever stop.
“There will be a trend but it’s going to be one of the stickier trends that we’re ever going to see.”