Natural. It’s a word that has come up a lot with the newer version of the Huel products, and it’s marketed as an improvement. I would like a little clarity of what it actually means and why it’s necessarily a good thing. To me, all it’s done is remove the amazing flavours and replaced them with lesser ones, both the powders and flavour boosts. The disappointment of the new Original is what really made me wonder about this. I still love Huel but I assume it will never taste as good as the product I started out with. So, if I can’t get the old days back, I would at least like to get an answer: What does natural actually mean, ingedient wise, why is it better, and why did Huel decide to make this transition?


There is a perception, rightly or wrongly amung consumers that if something is made from natural ingredients then it is healthier than something made from artificial ingredients.

Huel is now a mainstream company and is trying to appeal to the masses and the masses want things made from natural ingredients.


My perception of the word natural is that is is from a non synthetic source. To me this includes something of a synthetic product even if it derives from a natural source.


“Natural is defined in the Macquarie Dictionary as:
‘existing in or formed by nature; not artificial’[3] and not synthetic[4]”

The irony of course is that most of the reason consumers think natural is better is only because companies go on and on about about how awesome it is that they use natural ingredients in their marketing comms.


I remember reading Soylent’s website and having a real wow moment when I got to the bit about how they were proud to use GMO’s in their products.

I want optimised nutrition from Complete Foods and I hoped Huel would take a similar direction but it seems not and I was super disappointed on v3’s focus on natural along with the addition of probiotics (which science tells us are utterly pointless as a supplement) and yeah, the flavours aren’t as good now.

Still nice, but the shakes definitely aren’t as flavoursome as they have been.

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Probably not ideal to hold Soylent up as a good example considering their history of product recalls for making people ill and being barred from selling their products in Canada for 3 years until they changed their formula - but I get what you mean.


Ha true enough. But they kicked off this marvellous revolution. Not one of all these products we ‘eat’ would exist if Rob Rhinehart hadn’t decided to find out how far nutritional science could go in keeping us alive.

Natural = inferior, obsolete, anti-science, anti-progress - take your pick.

“Natural” is a buzzword that was created for marketing purposes - no one really knows what it actually means, but everyone things it’s good because marketing says it’s good - and we know that marketing always includes some brain-washing techniques.

Strictly speaking “natural” means “derived from nature” - and basically everything is derived from nature. And nothing that is available is completely unprocessed - even if you grow things on your own. Because the type of plant your growing is a species strongly influenced by humans.

@ rikefrejut: Nature is what science has as it’s subject, it is what caused and most likely still causes humans to feel the (evolutionary) need to make progress (to survive) - it is our energy source for the development and application of new technology. Nothing exists in isolation, and nothing is “inferior” in an absolute sense.


Well in terms of food labelling – we do know.

Food standards agencies around the world recognised the changing landscape of food ingredients and production, and needed to respond to increasing amounts of requests from consumers for agencies like the FDA to define the use of the term natural following litigation against brand owners for using the term natural on products containing GMO and refined sugar ingredients.

There has been no specific legislation put in place to mandate the scope of its use but instead policies put in place. The various global food standards agencies consider the term “natural” to mean that:

‘Nothing artificial or synthetic (including all colour additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.’

These however, do not cover food production methods (such as the use of pesticides) or food processing, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization or irradiation. Somewhat vaguely, they also did not define whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.


Absolutely – market trends dictate what happens with the products we buy. Companies that don’t go with the flow invariably suffer and decline. Switching to the v3 formula hasn’t hurt Huel’s growth, in fact quite the opposite.

If I could use a random analogy from the automotive manufacturing industry, the v3 formulation is Huel’s very own Porsche Cayenne - bear with me on this one…

Before Porsche dropped the ugly amorphous metallic blob that is the mark 1 Cayenne on the unsuspecting world, they were in deep financial trouble with sustained losses year on year. At the time, their biggest market was the US and there were two distinct factors that were starting to work against Porsche there:

  • The US market had/has/always will have an irrational love of SUV’s and large trucks.
  • The majority of customers are not prepared to wait for delivery and still prefer the historical notion of driving off the lot with their new car the same day.

At the time, Porsche had no answer for this, they didn’t make an SUV and typically waiting times were 6 months or more for a new car order.

So, they bowed to market pressure and decided to mass produce an SUV. This absolutely horrified their core customer base of ‘purists’ and at first it almost seemed like they had made a major mistake as dealer lots were overflowing with unsold new cars. Press reviews were middling and the cars looks divisive.

However that appears to have being down to the buying public not yet realising they could walk into a Porsche showroom and drive away a new car much cheaper than most of the other available models. Word soon got out and the ugly duckling became a massive success – not only saving Porsche but propelling them into unprecedented levels of financial success.

The purists were silenced because this new success gave them the freedom and independence to develop new and exciting products more in keeping with the Porsche ethos but at the same time – significantly different.

Huel Hot & Savoury. Just sayin’ :grinning:


Interesting responses, none from Huel themselves unfortunately, but I guess it sums up to a commercial decision based on popular demand. Short answer - the people ruined my Huel. Oh well, maybe if the demand is big enough the other way they can start another category called “Huel artificial” - “No natural nonsense, just those sweet sweet chemicals we all love” :wink:

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it’s not inconceivable that in the mid to distant future, logistical and political issues such as food security force changes like this, but for the moment at least I can’t see current trends changing anytime soon.

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There’s nothing inherently better or worse about a natural or synthetic ingredient. As others have said some consumers (rightly or wrongly) prefer natural ingredients.

There are specific regulations for natural ingredients in relation to food products. To be able to label flavourings as natural for example there are several guidelines that must be followed.

We can have the best nutritionally product in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if people don’t want to eat it.

I’d eat it.


Actually, it was a different product that was recalled (bars), and Huel is not sold in Canada either (for similar reasons to why Soylent wasn’t).

I think Huel Hot & Savoury comes partially from purists, too. I’ve run surveys that have indicated that there’s a demand for this kind of product from various complete food users/enthusiast. No doubt Huel has had a similar response in their internal survey.

Apparently, people get bored of drinking sweet shakes all the time and often leads to them dropping shakes for a while. Plus, when you think about it, we are more used to eat hot+savoury instead of sweet+cold for most of our meals (thus it’s normal that we would crave this).

I think you hit the nail.


yes - my point was that young companies like Huel need sufficient revenue and profit to be able to invest in R&D of new products - the comparison was that the success of the last year since v3 is helping that happen.

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How do you expect to get optimised nutrition from complete foods without natural products? What’s your definition of complete food?

Through their synthetic counterparts.

For me, Complete Foods are products based around the idea that good nutrition can be refined and reduced to the point where meals are simple and cost effective, take the minimal amount of fuss and yet are still properly balanced and nutritionally complete.

It also tends to be super highly processed and extremely science led and offers a massive chance to educate people around nutrition in a way that nothing else ever has. I’d much rather Huel were focused on being at the forefront of nutritional science rather than switching to natural flavourings and sub-optimal ingredients because they sound better in the marketing comms.

Definitely not as simple as A is always better than B but some absolutely taste nicer or are more bio-available, and the sourcing/creation can have big implications too - as you found when you used tried to use kelp as a natural source of iodine.

We’d never use sub-optimal ingredients. If a synthetic ingredient is better nutritionally, then we’ll use that.

Yeap totally agree!