Purition wants to shake-up breakfast: 'Clean label means highly-processed ingredients and fake foods'

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Purition: 'Unlike our competition, we do not make our products to be hyper palatable by adding tonnes of artificial sweetener, flavourings or refined sugar'
Purition: 'Unlike our competition, we do not make our products to be hyper palatable by adding tonnes of artificial sweetener, flavourings or refined sugar'

Related tags Breakfast Meal replacement Whole foods Nutrition

Purition is a UK protein shake manufacturer that wants to disrupt a breakfast offering that, co-founder Edward Taylor says, is too often characterised by ‘half truths’ and ‘nutrition myths’. What makes Purition different? “We play it straight down the line.”

Purition has developed a line of 14 all-natural high protein and low carb shakes that target the breakfast and healthy snacking occasions. The range is made with seven whole foods, including various seeds and nuts.

“We stand out for our natural, wholesome ingredients,”​ Edward Taylor, Purition co-founder, told FoodNavigator.

Taylor does not view ‘drinking breakfast as niche anymore’ – but he does say that the category is dominated by some larger brands that fail to meet demand for natural products.

Without naming names, Taylor elaborated: “Whilst some bigger ‘better known’ brands tell half-truths and double down on nutritional myths, we play it straight down the line. In our space some brands show pictures of ingredients that simply don’t reside in their products, while others claim to provide the healthiest offering even though they are often overflowing with highly refined ingredients (sourced from God knows where), which are the very definition of junk food. Except these ‘drinkable’ junk foods have added synthetic vitamins and minerals so that they’re perceived to be OK… but they aren’t if long-term good health is your goal.”

In this space, Purition believes it has something different to offer: simplicity. This is true for both the ingredients that go into Purition’s breakfast shakes and the methods it uses to process them.

“Our ingredients list includes only whole foods like almonds, pumpkin seeds and British grown chia; simply ground or chopped – not defeated or refined powders. We use the whole seeds and kernels.”

A nutrition-forward approach to innovation 

Purition's breakfast shakes offer something different - simplicity
Purition's breakfast shakes offer something different - simplicity

Good nutrition, delivered through whole foods, is at the heart of Purition’s philosophy. In fact, it was a driving force behind the company’s initial product development.

“We consulted a number of experts when developing our unique seeds and nuts blend and are proud to count doctors, nurses, dietitians, nutritionists and naturopaths as advocates of Purition, none of whom are paid or incentivised to spread the word. They do it because like us they believe in the unrivalled merits of ‘real’ food. Real foods that have been eaten for thousands of years by humans. The simple truth is, a real food diet can put Type 2 Diabetes into remission within weeks. No medication can do that.”

On its direct-to-consumer website, people are able to shop by ‘dietary need’ – from gluten free, to diabetic or low carb. Products are also positioned around specific ‘goals’: weight loss, exercise support and healthy eating.

And the company’s focus on nutrition has also been a guiding force in its development extensions to the line.

Purition is expanding its offering and meets the needs of a rapidly growing consumer group: people who want to reduce or eliminate animal proteins in their diets. “Alongside our original range, we now have a strong vegan range where we substitute whey protein for plant proteins like pea and hemp. It’s available in an ever-expanding range of flavours with new flavours: Vegan Coconut, Vegan Pistachio and Vegan Almond all primed to launch soon. We’re committed to making our shakes naturally delicious so have recently fine-tuned the recipes to further enhance the flavour profiles,”​ Taylor said.

Purition's range is expanding with vegan launches
Purition's range is expanding with vegan launches

Not another ‘meal replacement’

Because Purition is made from whole foods and uses minimal processing, Taylor is quick to reject the idea that the company is pedalling meal replacers for today’s busy consumers.

“I really don’t like either of these terms because technically Purition is not a ‘meal replacement.’ Purition is just food, like breakfast or lunch. A meal replacement has a legal definition which means it has to contain synthetic vitamins and minerals and we don’t do that. Purition is more than nutritious enough for a single meal and that is the point. Change one meal to Purition then you know you’ve started the day well.”

Nor does he enjoy describing the company’s shakes as ‘clean label’, an undefined industry term that has loose associations with easily recognisable ingredient lists. Interestingly, Taylor suggests that the clean label concept has been developed by the food sector as a way to disguise highly processed foods.

Purition uses 7 natural ingredients
Purition uses 7 natural ingredients

“The word ‘clean label’ is also a contentious subject for me because ‘clean label’ in reality means highly-processed ingredients and fake foods that can be listed as a single ingredient. This smoke and mirrors exercise makes them look ‘clean’ like ingredients that are simply grouped with so they don’t need to be legally declared. We hate that, we don't hide anything. Even the word ‘clean’ is not helpful to anyone. Does this mean other ingredients are ‘dirty’? It’s just not the right way to think about foods and ingredients, especially for consumers. I'm pleased that the term ‘clean’ eating is not used as widely today.”

COVID-19 provides a boost to healthy food

Taylor sees the audience for healthy food growing, in no small part thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has served to highlight the risks associated with having underlying, diet-related, health issues.

“The audience for health-conscious consumers just got a whole lot bigger. We’ve all just learnt that having an underlying health condition can put us at risk. So many underlying health conditions are related to being overweight as we get older. But being overweight as you get older is not a ‘given.’ It’s thought of as normal – ‘middle age spread’ - but nothing could be further from the truth in terms of human biology.”

In particular, Purition has struck a chord among consumers who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, Taylor elaborated.

“Traditionally our audience has been men (30%) and women (70%) who’re interested in healthy eating. We are currently seeing big demand uplifts right now, especially from Type 2 Diabetics because our ingredients are naturally very low in carbohydrate, starch and sugars.”

Breaking into the mainstream?

The SME is building up a following in health channels and direct to consumer. With growing awareness around diet and health, does Taylor see the concept becoming mainstream?
“It’s tough,”​ he replied. “More and more people are interested in health and healthy outcomes, which you could say is taking healthy eating more mainstream. However, if we go back to ‘taste’ at all costs I’m not sure.”

Many a food formulator is governed by the golden rule: Taste is king. Purition takes a different tack.

“Unlike our competition, we do not make our products to be hyper palatable by adding tonnes of artificial sweetener, flavourings or refined sugar because that’s neither in the customers’ best interests or what we set out do. It’s not the mainstream approach, but we let the natural flavours of our ingredients shine through. And believe it’s the naturally delicious taste, convenience and nutrition of our products that keep our loyal customers returning to buy more.

“Purition is not an artificially sweetened ‘milkshake’ so my final word is if you want a milkshake, buy a milkshake. However, if you want a healthy nutritious meal that is ready in 30 seconds and will keep you satisfied for hours and hours, Purition may just be for you.”

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