NEWS IN BRIEF

Huel ups convenience factor with RTD beverage launch

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

The HUEL RTD bottle is 100% recyclable and currently made of 25% recycled plastic with the intention of increasing that percentage, the company said.
The HUEL RTD bottle is 100% recyclable and currently made of 25% recycled plastic with the intention of increasing that percentage, the company said.

Related tags: plant-based protein, Meal replacement

HUEL is now competing in the ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage category with the launch of an on-the-go bottle format of its ‘nutritionally complete’ meal replacement protein blend.

Huel’s 16.9-ounce RTD product comes in vanilla and berry flavor options both containing 20 grams of plant-based protein and will be available to order online on Dec. 28, 2018.

Huel was founded in the UK and launched into the US market in 2017 with its line of powdered meal replacement products containing a blend of oats, pea protein, flaxseed, brown rice protein, MCTs from coconut, sunflower lecithin, and a blend of 27 minerals and vitamins.

The launch comes a month after the company received its first external investment of $26m from growth equity firm Highland Europe, which co-founder Julian Hearn said will be used to “accelerate growth”​ by expanding its product portfolio and entering new markets. When FoodNavigator-USA last spoke with Huel CEO James McMaster​ in June 2018, the company had reached $10m in sales in its first year in the US.

Knowing consumers are spending less time eating a meal​, especially a proper sit-down one, Huel said its RTD product was to give its customers an even more convenient, nutritious meal replacement option, that didn’t require a shaker and adding water.

“While creating these new products, our consumers who are constantly on-the-go were at the forefront of our minds. We wanted to create new lines that offered a solution for everyone who feels they're unable to consume nutritionally complete meals, due to their hectic schedules,”​ Hearn said.

But how popular is the trend to replace a meal consisting of solid food with a nutrient-dense beverage? According to global consulting firm Accenture's Future of Food report, meal replacement innovation is gaining some traction: roughly 17% of US consumers reported drinking a meal replacement beverage in the past year.

Huel has gained popularity with young professionals, typically male, working in technology. 

“It’s just a convenient healthy foodstuff. W​e over-index in young males with job titles in tech, but we also have customers in their eighties, plus students, so it’s a real mix. It offers benefits for everyone,” Hearn previously told FoodNavigator-USA.​

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