It’s been a long time coming; Soylent has finally arrived in the UK…. ish.

Launching via Amazon’s FBA service; they’ll rely on the mega retailers warehousing and shipping services, which is smart: by taking the FBA route they don’t need to recruit any staff, take out leases on expensive warehouses or indeed deal with any customer service queries – because that’s all handled by Amazon – Soylent just need to ship the big A some product and then they handle the rest. It’s a tactic that Queal (who recently pulled out of the states) might have had more success with when they expanded into the US.

Launch was originally due on the 12th but the drinks didn’t go up until today. I was refreshing Amazon throughout the morning and just seeing Saturo, Huel and YFood… it wasn’t until I checked page 2 of the search results that I found the big S; so it seems their European competitors are targeting “Soylent” as a keyword on Amazon quite heavily.

Amazon: Huel & Saturo target Soylent

But they would do wouldn’t they? Soylent has received a lot of press worldwide and with so much coverage they’re also what a lot of people look for when they first seek out Complete Food products.

So what’s on offer? To begin with we’re getting Cafe Mocha (formerly Coffiest), Cacao, and Original. It’s a solid set that mirrors the coffee, chocolate and ‘plain’ flavours already on offer by brands like Saturo and YFood, but the similarities slow down there (more on that in a moment).

There’s sad news for any European Complete Food aficionados hoping to make a purchase: shipping is limited to the UK so they’re closer, but still not close enough. It’s Prime shipping though, so it’s likely to be pretty quick. Curious about the reception so far, I hit the Soylent subreddit.

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Ah, the price seems is an issue. In the states 12 bottles (4,800kcal worth) comes in at $39.99. That’s about £30 at today’s exchange rate. Here in the UK we’re a penny shy of being £10 more expensive, fine if you’re having a bottle or two a day but it’s a significant difference if you’re going to drink a lot of it.

Let’s make a couple of comparisons with incumbents Saturo and YFood, and the brand new RTD from Plenny Shake.

 kcal per meal£ per meal£ per 500kcalMinimum purchase
Soylent Original400Kcal£3.33£4.16£39.99 (12)
Saturo Original500Kcal£2.68£2.68£16.10 (6)
YFood Vanilla500Kcal£3.10£3.10£18.59 (6)
Plenny Shake Vanilla400kcal£2.20£2.76C17.76 (6)
To be fair to Soylent wee’re using single purchase prices here, but it’s worth noting that all but Soylent offer reduced prices for ongoing subscriptions.

Things look ok on a per meal basis. Soylent is a touch more expensive but like I say above; for the odd meal here and there it’s not too bad. Things get a little starker though when we normalise the pricing to 500kcal, with Soylent a full £1.58 more expensive than Saturo (and that goes up to a £1.75 difference withwa subscription). That’s a lot and if you’re drinking these as a big part of your diet.

Then there’s the minimum purchase. Where Soylent’s smallest pack is 12 bottles its rivals each have 6 bottle packs; and if you want to try the full range? That’s going to cost you.

 FlavoursPack SizePack CostAll flavours
Soylent312£39.99£119.97 / 36 bottles
Saturo36£16.10£48.3 (18 bottles)
YFood36£18.59£55.77 (18 bottles)
Plenny Shake16£17.76£17.76 (6 bottles)
Jimmy Joy’s single flavour obviously comes out top simply by being a single flavour option, but it’s cheaper and quicker to try the others without (poyentiallp) being stuck with bottles if you don’t enjoy them. YFood even offer a £9 taster pack and I’m really surprised that Soylent haven’t launched with a variety pack. Four bottles of each flavour at £39.99 wouldn’t seem too bad, £119 to try the full range though? That’s an investment.

Still; as I keep saying about RTD’s in general the higher price per meal (£3.33 in Soylent’s case) is likely cheaper and much more nutritionally balanced than a lot of the food their target customer opts for; so perhaps it’s just my knowledge of Complete Foods in general that makes this a bit of a let down?

If it sounds like I’m on a massive downer about Soylent; I’m not trying to be. Yes I’m a little surprised about how they’re testing the waters over here, yes I wish they’d have launched with a variety pack of some kind – but I’m very aware that I’ve not actually tried any yet – so I’m going to withhold judgement until my case of Cafe Mocha arrives and I can start to get to know the flavours a little better.

All that said, it’ll be interesting how things play out. The Complete Food space in Europe is far more competitive than it is in the US and with little reputation here, I’m curious about how well Soylent do.