Huel Powders are about to go through some major changes as they mature into their v3 recipe. – and forum users aren’t happy.

The full write up on the changes is over here on the Huel website and it seems (from the written order at least) that the main thing they think people will balk at is changes to pricing, which are going up by about £5 per two bags on subscription.

That doesn’t seem too bad to me. Huel hasn’t gone up in four years so an 11% rise now is roughly in line with inflation and not a big issue in my eyes. It’s said to be about helping Huel improve, not due to changes in v3 ingredients.

So that’s fine, but some of the v3 updates are going to be controversial. One in particular.

Let’s consider the highlights…

  • Improved texture – thanks to new ingredients (tapioca and sunflower lecithin) Huel Powder is smoother than ever.

Tapioca makes sense. It works brilliantly in the RTD and as a pure carb it can easily replace some oats to help tweak the texture. It’s empty calories but it’s also fourth on the ingredients list behind Pea Protein, Ground Flaxseed, and Brown Rice so amounts aren’t massive, and I bet it’ll do a great job.

Sunflower lecithin I know nothing about though Google suggests it’s rich in choline and other essential fatty acids such as phosphatidylinositol and is great for liver function and your skin – another good addition.

  • Improved all-natural flavours – all Huel Powder flavours now come from natural ingredients, and have an improved taste profile.

Why all-natural!? Does natural coffee flavouring taste more like coffee than synthetic coffee flavouring? Jury is out on this one until I taste the the v3 mix.

  • Pre and probiotics – we added probiotics (“good bacteria”) to the natural prebiotic profile coming from the fibre content in Huel Powder.

I don’t see any benefit here. The EU made probiotics makers remove health claims from their advertising because they had no scientific basis and research like this suggest that taking probiotics is largely pointless.

  • Natural vitamin C – in a push to increase natural sources of our micronutrients, the vitamin C in Huel Powder now comes from Acerola Cherries.

In a push to increase natural sources? Why? Synthetic vitamin C is indistinguishable from natural.

  • Kelp – similar to the above, now the iodine content of Huel Powder comes from kelp.
  • Kombucha – again, a natural source of B vitamins.

The kombucha is from powder (so no caffeine or alcohol). but these are just to replace synthetic versions of Iodine and B-vitamins with ‘natural’ ones.

The update at first seems more about natural vs synthetic with natural finally winning after Huel’s repeated assertion that synthetic vitamins are fine for us. It feels very marketing led and makes me a little nervous if I’m honest, but I do trust Huel with my nutrition, so maybe I just need to do a bit more reading around the specific ingredients they’re bringing in; but if natural is so much better, why weren’t these ingredients used in v1?

Kelp though, looks to be the thing people have problems with because whilst it seems mostly about replacing synthetic this with natural that, adding it means the label gains this:

So Huel, a vegan product, may now contain Crustaceans, Fish and Molluscs. It almost certainly won’t, but it might.

Is Huel still Vegan then? Absolutely according to them, adding “as kelp is harvested underwater, we have to add a “may contain” message” – but I think the presence of the warning is a huge problem.

After all no-one with a nut allergy is going to eat something that says “may contain nuts” so they’re instantly losing anyone with a shellfish allergy, but are they really banking on vegans continuing to buy something that says it may contain fish (even if it doesn’t)?

There’s a growing Forum thread with a lot of views being shared and another on the /r/huel subreddit that’s worth a look, but it’s clear they underestimated the reaction from Hueligans.

Julian has got stuck in on the forum discussing the pro’s and cons alongside others in the Huel team and it’s great to see this kind of engagement from the company. It’s something you don’t often get when products you love get updated and it shows Huel’s commitment to listening to their customers and being open to discussion.

Indeed, flouride was once added to the recipe and then removed after a forum outcry and changes to the Vanilla flavour were so vocally hated by some that the older version was kept on as ‘Original’.

The original looks to be staying ‘as is’ for the time being and at the same price until stock runs out. It might continue as a v3 flavour if they can replicate the taste properly, but that’s a maybe right now and all depends on Julian testing formulations so time will tell.

On the upside, the new probiotics and kombucha are likely to help with any potential gastric distress new customers experience as they’re both particularly helpful with IBS. How’s that relevant to Huel and Complete Foods in general though you wonder?

Well, a sudden change from a poor diet to a properly balanced once brings with it a sudden shift in protein and fibre, and that can cause unexpected toilet trips and gas (something much maligned in a post titled “Errm, Huel Poop that’s been running on the forum for near three years now) so the team has to recommend slowly introducing Huel into someones diet – if they can make the transition easier that’s only going to be a good thing for customers, and of course, for Huel.

The v3 will launch via Huel.com mid December. You can stock up on v2.3 now if you want, or wait for the v3 and see what you think then.


Article thumbnail from NOAA Photo Library first posted at https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5077882249.