Forget plant-based supplements; UK-based Huel wants its powder to be the whole meal.
What’s happening: Huel, a sustainability-focused nutrition startup, raised £20M ($24M) in a funding round led by Highland Europe, with participation from actor Idris Elba and others.
With the new funding and an expanding portfolio of low-sugar, plant-based meal replacement products, the company will press expansion in the US, its second-largest market.
Why it matters: Huel’s powders, protein bars, and quick mixes are formulated for fueling, with precise ratios of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Emphasizing convenience and a climate-conscious ethos, the brand is targeting a growing number of consumers seeking functional foods that are transparent about their benefits — especially as the definition of “healthy” remains ambiguous.
But… If Huel’s pitch to transform food as we know it sounds familiar, it might be because it has been tried before.
Like SlimFast before it, Silicon Valley favorite Soylent offers a meal replacement shake akin to Huel. The company raised more than $130M before it came under scrutiny for lab-made ingredients and links to gastrointestinal distress.
Pivoting from meal replacement to supplemental drink, its CEO said the company is on track for $100M in sales this year, selling in 30K US retailers as well as DTC.
Looking ahead: Convenience, transparency, functional nutrition, and planet-friendly are all highly valued by today’s consumer. But, so are whole, organic foods. Huel will need to convince consumers powdered meals aren’t just a novelty.