Soylent Bridge (strapline: ‘the inbetween-meal’) was developed after the company received multiple requests from fans for a lighter version of the brand's signature meal-replacement drink to tide them over between meals, Soylent CEO Bryan Crowley told FoodNavigator-USA.
"They wanted a lower calorie, slightly lighter option when you want to keep going between meals, and we were able to come up with a formulation that's a complete mini-meal that's not quite as thick and shake-like. So Soylent Bridge has 15g of plant-based protein [soy protein isolate], 10g fat, 3g sugar and 180 calories; whereas our core 414ml ready to drink product has 20g of plant-based protein, 21g fat, 9g sugar, and 400 calories."
The new line - which comes in one SKU (chocolate) will initially be available on soylent.com, said Crowley. "We're trying to take this brand and product line to more and more people and occasions."
Zero to 13,000 bricks & mortar stores in 18 months
Soylent, which built a sizeable business on its own website before launching on Amazon in 2016, made its first foray into bricks & mortar retail in summer 2017, and is now in 13,000 stores after just 18 months, including 7-Eleven, Kroger, Target and Walmart, where its products are merchandised in the grab & go protein set, said Crowley.
"With Walmart, we initially only went into a little over 400 stores, but it went so well that we've launched a four-pack there that's done phenomenally well."
Soylent is also gearing up to re-enter the Canadian market, which has strict regulations governing the formulation and labeling of products marketed as meal replacements with which Soylent did not initially comply when it first entered the market, acknowledged Crowley.
"Fingers crossed hopefully we can sometime soon announce we are back in Canada!"
It has also launched on Amazon in the UK with recipes (original, cacao, cafe mocha) tweaked to meet EU regulations, he said.
Our broader competitive set is fast food
While the term ‘meal replacement’ might conjure up images of brands such as Ensure or Slimfast, Crowley sees the competitive set in slightly different terms.
“People ask us all the time, who are your competitors? So in retail, we compete in RTD protein, RTD coffee and grab and go, but our broader competitive set is fast food, which is often where people go because it’s accessible and inexpensive and affordable on a per calorie basis, but they don’t necessarily love it.
“We’re supplying 400 calories, 20g of plant-based protein and 20% of your daily needs in terms of micronutrients – the vitamins and minerals, there’s nothing like it on the market, you can get a protein drink and those are fine, but most of the calories are from sugar and most of the protein is from whey.”
Soylent works well in a convenience store setting next to cold brew coffee or grab & go meals and snacks, and is attracting a wide range of consumers from busy young professionals and college students to gamers, Crowley told FoodNavigator-USA during our Beverage Innovation online event in 2018.
“One of the things about being a successful brand online is that you are able to mine a huge amount of consumer data. No one knows our customers better than us.
“7-Eleven has been great in enabling us to try things and test different placements, and what it told us was that in convenience and gas, we work well in the grab and go beverage segment, next to products such as ready-to-drink coffee. But there’s also a whole secondary placement opportunity in grab & go food, as we are selling a complete meal in a bottle, and so we’ve been very successful there too.”