Time is running out for Huel RTD

Joylent (now known as JimmyJoy) are about to launch a ready-to-drink version at end of September:

If JimmyJoy manages to saturate the European RTD market (just like Soylent did in USA), it will be tough for Huel RTD.

Most customers are not able to determine the quality of a food product, so they will just grab the first product available and stick with it if it is affordable.

Well, possibly, but Mana, YFood, Feed and Saturo are all RTD products available in the EU. Online ordering seems to be a healthy competitive scene, and the Plenny Drink will only join this crowd.

What Soylent has done in the U.S. is to aggressively move into “bricks and mortar” sales, getting agreements with some nation-wide retail grocery chains. This has definitely put it in a dominant position with respect to retail. Because of the difficulty of obtaining “shelf space”, it is very unlikely another meal replacement drink could now appear in those stores(*).

But online is a separate world. I expect that the Plenny drink will get lots of U.S. orders from the people who now order Soylent drinks online. If JJ can get Plenny stocked by Amazon, and if they price it even a little lower than Soylent, they will be able to compete very well in the online arena. And I think that a Huel RTD could also compete very well, again in the online arena, in the U.S. It could do in the EU against Saturo et.al. as well – setting aside Brexit unknowns.

In a recent interview I discussed here, Julian Hearn admitted to having talks with unspecified “UK Supermarkets”. If Huel can place any products, but especially an hypothetical RTD one, on the shelves at (let’s say) Tesco, that could cement its UK retail dominance just as Soylent’s move into 7-11 and Kroger stores did in the U.S.

(*) it is possible that a retail behemoth like Starbuck’s or PepsiCo might decide to enter the meal replacement field, and with their muscle they could place a competitive product alongside Soylent. However, launching a new product is expensive and chancy; the big players are more likely to enter a new market by buying an existing product. Which is why people often expect, or dread, the news that Rosa Foods has been bought by e.g. General Mills.

I wonder how the RTD would go with their zero waste policy. It is true that almost all these products use reciclable plastics, but they would still produce more waste and require more energy (and materials) in order to be made.

I get it that it might be beneficial for the company in economic terms, and that the market might be asking for it. It would also be easier to sell the product in the supermarkets and place it as an alternative to the “Meal Deals” in the UK.

Money or Soul? Where is the compromise or the solution?

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That was my opinion as well originally but you cannot compare RTD to the powder. RTD needs to be compared against the things people may choose while on the go, like packaged sandwiches, crisps, chocolate bars, and a water based drink sold in either in a plastic bottle or one of those cups of doom the coffee shops serve. Not only would RTD be healthier than most of that in some cases it might also be more environmentally friendly too.

Huel isn’t zero waste either, it’s minimal waste.


You are right is zero food waste. My mistake.

I did kind of want to hint minimal waste though.

You bring up a fair point. It is also true that tackling problems one step at the time is more efficient and more doable. Hence, RTDs would be a lesser evil, as you say.

Thank your for your insight.


Trouble is that JimmyJoy bigger than those 4 companies combined and thus has a higher chance of winning. Last I heard (2017) Huel is bigger than JimmyJoy but this RTD race might change that.

Huel claims to have sold over 20M+ meals whereas Jimmyjoy 15M+ (both are likely to be outdated). I think Huel has a stronger market position, good reputation and steady user base.

I also think that the Huel marketing team is stronger and that a new user is more likely to buy Huel (especially in the UK, for instance). It is true that being in the lead does not mean they will be in the future (cough, Soylent), but I think Huel has been managing their brand fairly well.

That said, I agree that Jimmyjoy is a bigger threat, due to its presence in the US and EU, bigger budget, bigger manpower and production power.

That is a likely scenario if the product s deem to sell well.

I obviously don’t know for example what Huel’s long term strategy is…and it won’t be divulged if I asked (rightly so), but if it becomes the market leader or has a large share of the market and is moving upwards then yeah, I can see it being bid for by multinational(s)…and with veganism being an ever expanding market it wouldn’t surprise me if a big player makes a move at some point. Look at what has happened to vegan ice cream. In all the supermarkets now, many of the brands owned by Unilever.

I’ve said for ages that Complete Foods won’t get anywhere near mainstream until they’re in a Ready to Drink format in shops, it’s just obvious. Soylent went from being a niche tech bro food powder > trying out RTD > being in stores all over the states very quickly once their RTD came out. One of the EU brands is going to do the same, unless of course Soylent does it before them - because they launch in the UK next week.

The Jimmy Joy RTD is great, tried it earlier in the year and really liked it. Taste and texture was lovely; my only real problem with it was the Kcal because I like a more substantial ‘meal’. They’ve just updated to be fully vegan across the board as well, so one of the big differentiators between their powders and Huel’s is gone.

Huel needs to keep innovating. Recipe tweaks and new flavours are great, the granola is fantastic, but the RTD needs to come soon because market share and aggressive advertising only counts for so much, just ask myspace, noka, blockbuster, etc, etc.

Depends on the business. Myprotein obviously had a quick look at existing Complete Foods and thought, yeah we can do that, then released their Whole Fuel. Superb product at a very low price.

If they take another look and see RTD’s doing well they could do the same.

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MyProtein apparently don’t advise using Whole Fuel for more than 2 meals per day, and given the lack of balancing of the nutrients, I’m not too sure it’s comparable with complete foods.

Source for that claim? Mana and Feed both have supermarket presence so I think they are doing OK sales wise.

Do any brands? Most have an open to interpretation comment along the lines of ‘can replace any meal, but we don’t recommend replacing every meal’, MP are probably just covering themselves like everyone else is because the long-term studies aren’t in on CF’s.

Don’t worry, their new formula tastes bad (with worse macros)…

Do you think this is going to be the main form of consumption?

I feel like there are a lot of questions around RTDs, and while VCs and many brands are favouring them I do not feel they are going to be the game changer. Yes, they could be one of the factors, but I think there is too much social stigma and other limitations currently for RTDs to magically open the door. I think time will be off the essence here.

I’ve discussed a little in my recent article about RTD craze:

Yes, definitely. The average person in the street is simply not going to buy powdered food in supermarket in the same way that would buy an RTD.

Someone who really gets into it, sure, will order bag after bag of powder on the internet - but the main reason Complete Foods took a powdered format to begin with seems more due to ease of creation rather than it being a better format (several big CF companies started out of people’s spare rooms for example, RTD would have been impossible. Mixing powder on the other hand, far easier).

As the companies mature and grow in size / ability they’re all launching RTD’s because ultimately that’s what the average consumer is going to want, or wants already.

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Yes, I can definitely see that the barrier of entry is bigger for powder. However, and I do not have the numbers for this, I would like to see how many people consume protein powder vs protein RTDs. Who moves the bulk of the sales. Yes people do not buy protein powder in the supermarkets, but do more people buy powder than do RTD?

With normalization, should people not ultimately end up looking to price and other comodities (long run)?

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Protein powers are a specific product with a specialised audience, complete foods aren’t the same. Again, you’re average consumet will never buy them.

A better comparison might be baby milk, where both powdered and RTD versions are available, but again, it’s a specialised audience, no someone deciding between CF and a sandwich.

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People tend to make decisions by their wallets = cheap > quality (to some degree, anyway). When it comes down to price vs convienience though, that’s a tricky one because people are not only cheap but also lazy.

To prove my first point, I would assume (based on feeling, no source) JJ has a larger share of the market than Huel. Even if it’s full of maltodextrin, inferior micros, etc. But it’s cheaper (quite a lot in Sweden, ~30%). It could be marketing too.

Huel has no competitors when looking at nutrition except Genesis. IMO. At least in Europe.

I am looking forward to the new pricing structure due hoppfully this year. Making Huel cheaper is also a good way to both gain and keep customers.

Lently has a fairly good recipe, only huge difference is using whey and so it’s not vegan, lovely flavours too.