Here is docment we recently wrote on food waste…
With ever more demand for food globally, along with some frankly outrageously wasteful processes that occur in the food supply chain, Julian Hearn, the founder of Huel (www.huel.com) set about creating a food that minimised this wastage. He looked at the three main areas of food wastage, to see if there could be a product created that could address these issues, whilst maintaining the nutritional quality and natural benefits of foods with minimal processing. After years of research and development, with the help of James Collier, the Huel meal concept was created.
Area 1 - Household food wastage:
Households throw out over seven million of tonnes of food each year* in the UK, with the majority of this being foods that go out of date and are no longer edible. This equates to more than £200 for every householder in the UK. Huel products provide a solution to this issue, as it is a dried and finely milled product and hence has a shelf life of up to 12 months. As there are 14 meals in a bag Huel, so long as the consumer has a meal about once a month, there is no household food wastage from consuming Huel. (I’m not sure this sentence is necessary)
This long shelf life is not through any use of preservatives or any other artificial method. It is simply due to drying the foods and eliminating all water from the powder. This ensures no bacteria can survive and thrive, meaning the foods will not go off. This production method is no different to milling flour. It is simply milling and drying different ingredients to create a balanced nutritional profile of the Huel products. Drying food is probably the oldest form preserving food, humans have been turning food in flour for over 30,000 years: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101018/full/news.2010.549.html )
Finely milling the ingredients, in addition to resealable packaging, allows the Huel powders to remain in optimal condition, allowing consumers to enjoy the Huel products for up to a year after purchase.
Area 2 - Food packaging waste
Food packaging waste also accounts for a significant percentage of the total wastage from the supply of foods in the UK. Huel also works hard to minimise packaging waste. As Huel is a powder, a fit for purpose pouch was created to exactly contain the product. These Huel pouches weigh only 34g, which means even if a consumer ate Huel meals exclusively for a whole year, they would use only 104 bags of Huel over a years period (on a 2,000Kcal daily calorific intake). Therefore the total packaging used by the consumer on Huel over the year would be only just over 3kgs. When one considers the full wheelie bins placed outside every week for collection, to create only 3kgs of waste every year really is a radical step forwards in terms of packaging waste reduction.
Indeed the team worked out that a single pallet of Huel powders would last an individual almost 96 years. Unfortunately, the Huel pouches are currently not recyclable, due to no current product that can protect against degradation of the ingredients and is also recyclable. However, as soon as packaging technology catches up with the Huel products, this will be investigated also.
There is 96 years worth of Huel pouches, if you consumed 2000 kcals everyday.
Area 3 - Farm to plate wastage:
A great deal of produce is rejected and hence wasted by the supply chain due to size, shape and colour variation of the individual products. Some estimates have put the levels of rejection for natural variation as high as 30%. Because the Huel product is milled and dried, there is very little post farm-gate wastage. Shape, size and variations in colour of the ingredients are not relevant in the production of Huel powders. Therefore the amount of ingredients rejected during the production of Huel powders is minimised, allowing another improvement on food waste when compared to the traditional food supply chain.
Huel products as a powder are resilient to any potential damage caused in transit. As it in a powdered format, the Huel product does not suffer from many of the common challenges associated in fresh produce transport. The Huel powders do not bruise, as with many fruits and vegetables, Huel does not have to be transported in a temperature controlled environment and as the the powders have such a long shelf life, environmentally challenging practices, such as air freight for fresh produce, does not have to be used. Again, the Huel powders have managed to minimise the environmental impact of getting Huel powders from production to the consumer.
With environmental credentials of products becoming more and more under scrutiny by the consuming public, Julian believes that minimising the impact on the environment is not just a moral decision.
“We get almost daily feedback from our customers questioning our environmental credentials and positively reacting when we explain our environmental process and strategy. There is no doubt in my mind that us choosing to pursue processes and products that minimised our environmental impact has helped catalyse our success commercially”
For the above reasons and because Huel is also super-convenient and nutritionally complete, 4.5+million meals have been sold in just 18 months of trading.