Huel moves into retail availability with Sainsbury’s to stock RTD products

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©Huel
©Huel

Related tags: Huel, Sainsbury's, RTD

Functional food firm Huel reveals details of an agreement with Sainsbury's to stock its nutritionally complete meal on supermarket shelves for the first time.

Previously only available on Huel’s website, ​the firm’s range of Ready-To-Drink (RTD) meals will roll out to the 500 Sainsbury’s stores located across the country.

“We're in a fantastic position where we have a really strong online direct-to-consumer (D2C) business, which means we'll always rely less on retail,”​ says Huel CEO James McMaster.

“However part of Huel’s mission is to provide nutritionally convenient food, so it is only fitting that we explore retail opportunities for impulse buying occasions that we can’t achieve from our website.

“Making Huel easily accessible through retail will also be beneficial to help widen our audience and awareness, encouraging customer trials. 

With Huel launching in Sainsbury’s stores, plans are afoot to introduce its products into Selfridges, WeWork Southbank and Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge.

In a statement, Huel says that despite the brand’s strong e-commerce offering, it predicts the move to bricks-and-mortar will, “help widen awareness with new audiences and continue ongoing growth.”

‘Complete Meal’ category

The ‘Complete Meal’ category has developed into a popular choice for those keen to adopt plant-based eating as part of an increasingly busy, pressured lifestyle.

Current players in this market include US-based Soylent, the UK’s Huel and French brand Feed.

“Competition in the category is a good thing,”​ says McMaster. “We are aware of competitors looking to take a share of one of the fastest growing categories.

“Our competitors are good but clearly we feel, we are the best, especially nutritionally. Our mission is to provide Nutritionally Complete Food, so we will never compromise on nutrition. Our focus is always nutrition first, taste a close second.”

The UK-based firm’s RTD product is formulated to a 35:42:20:3 (carbohydrate:fat:protein:fibre) macro split.

Each 500 millilitre (ml) bottle of Huel RTD provides 20 grams (g) of high-quality protein - 40% of the average person’s daily requirements.

This protein is sourced from four of the product’s main ingredients: pea protein, oats, brown rice flour and flaxseed. In addition, Huel RTD Vanilla contains 5.7g of fibre per bottle, with Berry containing 5.1g.

Its vitamin and mineral profile per bottle (500g) of its vanilla and berry flavours includes vitamin A (180μg, 23% Reference Intakes (RI)), vitamin D (5μg, 100% RI) and vitamin E (3mg, 25% RI).

Minimal environmental impact

“The idea was to create a nutritionally complete meal in shake format that contained a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fibre, and fats, as well as all essential vitamins and minerals required for a complete meal,” ​explains McMaster.

“It was a conscious choice to develop a product that would be suitable for a wide variety of dietary requirements and made with minimal impact on the environment.

“Although the amino acid profile of a single plant-based protein source may be inferior to an animal protein, this is easy to get around simply by combining more than one source of plant protein in a meal. The two main protein sources in Huel are derived from brown rice and pea protein.

McMaster touches on Huel’s plans for the future commenting that the firm’s business model is predominantly direct to consumer.

“We talk directly to our customers and can give them the very best brand and customer experience,” ​he says.

“We realise however that there is a huge opportunity in retail, especially with Huel Ready-to-drink, recently launched.

“So we would have plans to launch into retail with the right partners, not just in the UK but in key regions and offer customers complete nutrition on the go.”

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