Very little has been said officially but a Wired article published today has given us a little peak behind the Huel curtain. The article is over here and makes for good reading, briefly covering where Huel came from as an idea, how it developed, and where it’s going in the future.
A couple of things leapt out at me and it’s clear that the Huel team have their eye on the community because there’s a few new products coming.
Whether it’s cold brew, a shot of espresso, or just some instant coffee powder; enough people are talking about adding coffee to Huel for them to take notice and the article discusses a “super top secret” pre-blended coffee flavour. Being pre-blended is interesting in of itself and marks a departure from the flavour packs (unless we’re misunderstanding Wired and this is a new coffee flavour pack). How’s it taste?
It tastes pleasant, and not a million miles away from a vanilla Frappuccino.
The next thing of note is the chocolate-orange flavoured bar, but that’s not huge news if you’re on the Huel forums. Much bigger is the surprise announcement of a Ready to drink Huel. This is something that’s been asked for again and again in the forums but the team have always said it wasn’t part of their plan. Either customer demand, or the entry of other RTD offerings into the Complete Food space, has changed their mind. Huel founder Julian Hearn explains…
Making a ready-to-drink version of Huel is significantly more difficult than the powder. “The beauty of powder is that there’s no liquid, which means bacteria can’t survive, which means that the shelf life is very long,” he says. Adding water immediately brings new challenges to the production process. For example, a liquid product needs heat treating, which can degrade some vitamins and minerals. Hearn says that Huel now has a formula it’s happy with and is currently looking for a manufacturer who has the required expertise and availability to make it
Launch is said to include ‘several’ flavours in 500ml bottles with it sounding like Huel is looking to follow Soylent into retail once they prove a hit – something else they’d previously said wasn’t part of the plan – but with no manufacturer in place it sounds like we’ve a while to wait to get our ready to drink Huel on.
Talking more of the future; the Huel team definitely seems to have their eye on taking Complete Foods into the mainstream and they’re probably the UK brand best placed to do so. Pragmatically, they’re looking towards venture capital or crowdfunding to speed up expansion, possibly having learnt a lesson when myprotein released a very Huel like product last year with seemingly little development time.
This is going to be a big category and there’ll be big guns come with very deep pockets and we don’t want to be overtaken.