Let's talk Huel bars packaging AGAIN

Hello everyone,

I mostly use the Huel bars and have loved pretty much every version so far, especially the last 2 versions. However, I’m sure a lot of people are feeling more and more guilty/aware that the packaging is terrible.

They are terrible to open, incredibly wasteful and they just really need to change this.

The official story is:

"The wrappers are made of a composite of plastic outer layer to make them strong and waterproof, and an inner layer of foil to block light and stop the micronutrients degrading."

Ok, understood, now let’s talk about this in detail.

Does my huel wrapper need to be strong? Not really
Does it need to be waterproof? Of course not

Blocking light to stop the micronutrients from degrading: How much difference does this REALLY make? There is no other alternative that is recyclable that can do as good or almost as good of a job?

This HAS to change, you guys need to set a leading example here, change this!

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I often throw a bar in my gym bag where it can be knocked around for days - strength of the wrapper is essential in this case. I would question the need to block light though, better to have a recommendation to store out of direct sunlight or something along those lines

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I must admit I agree with the strong and waterproof part. I take them hiking/scrambling and knowing that I’ve got food that can survive rain and rocks helps. I’ve had bars that have been turned into sausage shapes and the print has come off the wrapper with wear and tear but the food inside is dry and good to eat. A bit extreme I know but I imagine a lot of folk use them for outdoor sports and travelling.

If there is another strong and waterproof material available I’d be happy to take it up a rainy Snowdon to test!

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Hi @Social - thanks for the comments.

We’re always looking to improve our packaging and we’re certainly open to new formats.

However, I do want to pick up on your points:

Does my huel wrapper need to be strong? Not really

It absolutely must be strong. If the wrapper breaks, then it’s a risk of letting in air and this could cause microbial contamination and is both a health risk as well as making the Bar unpallatable.

Does it need to be waterproof? Of course not

Being waterproof is imperative. If moisture can get into a food product, it increases its water activity and this is a much higher risk for bacterial spoilage

Blocking light to stop the micronutrients from degrading: How much difference does this REALLY make? There is no other alternative that is recyclable that can do as good or almost as good of a job?

It makes difference to a few - eg vit C, vit A. But yes, it doesn’t make a huge difference. So, if we can satisfy the neccessary requirments for a wrapper (like the ones above), then other options are certainly open.

Strong, waterproof ideas are always welcome from Huelers!

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There’s a reason you’re someone who sits on a computer and asks these questions, and not out there manufacturing these products and wrappers.

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I imagine you would be less than happy if your bars didn’t keep very long. Who wants mouldy and off-tasting bars? Not me. I am sure one of the reasons you have enjoyed your bars is because the product has a protective covering to keep it edible and nutritious.

Strong and waterproof? Well there’s always Durex™, can’t guarantee they’ll taste the same though :innocent:

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At least they would come out the packet easier

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Wishful thinking: How about the wrapper is an absolute minimal amount necessary, perhaps something compostable? Then anyone that needs to take bars to the gym or hiking or down to the Mariana Trench can put their bars in stronger, reusable packaging better suited for those environments.

But not every Huel bar will be subjected to the kinds of abuse that RyanT, AppleJuice and Captain Nemo put theirs to.

Maybe Huel could have the Hugo logo screen printed on a nice looking lunch box for such a purpose.

After looking into this a bit more, I’m a bit surprised that there really seems to be no proper alternative to candy wrappers in general. I guess the only thing possible would be to refine the packaging, reduce the amount of plastic etc… I guess it’s not worth it from a business perspective.

The only option, (from an eco standpoint) would be to stop purchasing products like this.

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Ultimately Huel will have to do something.

Germany leads many other countries in recycling and whatever they do, first influences the EU, and then the rest of the world. They introduced the idea of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in 1991!

Currently we have the problem of producers ‘externalising’ costs. When Huel talk about their ready-to-drink PET bottles being 100% recyclable, they quietly ignore the shrink wrap label being made from an entirely different and currently not recycled polymer, [source] they also haven’t paid a single penny towards local authorities recycling schemes to handle those bottles.

So you ask, do the supermarkets and other big producers pay any more than they need to? Of course they don’t. In 2017, local authorities spent £700m on recycling, and businesses spent just £73m. [source]

But I would hope that like Huel’s commitment to 100% vegan-friendly products, they would commit to going above and beyond what every other company has so far feebly responded with. How about those Walkers crisps eh? In 2010 their parent company, PepsiCo, withdrew compostable bags because consumers complained they were too noisy‽ [source]

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With the greatest possible respect, from an ‘eco-standpoint’, plastic waste - when put on a scale of the factors that negatively impact climate change - is much lower than things like food waste and plant-based diets.

Of the 100 most substantive solutions to address climate change (drawdown.org/solutions). Number 3? Reduce food waste; Huel Bars have a 5 month shelf life due to our packaging. Number 4? Plant-rich diet; Huel Bars (and all products) are totally suitable for a vegan diet.

To put that in perspective, if food waste were a country it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitting nation in the world. [here]

By reducing your consumption of animal protein by half, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%. [here, but read here initially]

Plastic waste is important, but from an eco-standpoint Huel is head and shoulders ahead on reducing our Huelers’ impact on the environment.

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This is a broader point than Huel: Isn’t it ironic that food waste is still so terrible but we’re constantly told that plastic is part of the solution? If plastic were part of the solution then shouldn’t food waste be so much less?

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Very true.

In order for things to get better, the market needs to shift entirely, and a product like Huel isn’t going to do that all on its own, no matter how the intentions behind it are.

I think we should ignore threads like this with all the naysayers crying like toddlers over the packaging. It’s necessary, and the footprint isn’t as scary as you think.

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Really good points raised and some really credible sources (Drawdown is next on my reading list).

Enjoying the debate here and whilst I’m not a stereotypical eco warrior, with such attention to the environment at the moment, I do think the original point raised is worth exploring.

I’m fairly new to the Huel community but it’s a product that ticks a lot of boxes for me and whilst I started with the aim of controlling my diet, I really like your ethos as a comoany and reducing my food waste is a great secondary benefit.

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