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Huel: The Meat Alternative Of The Future?

by Shawn Binder on 11/04/2019 | 3 Minute Read

Sometimes, life is too busy for us to care about what we put in our bodies. Between work, social life, and other responsibilities, carving out time for meal prep can feel daunting, especially when you're trying to map out what you’d like to eat for the coming week. 

Huel is one of the latest meal alternatives on the market that helps take the guess-work out of nourishing your body. Launched in the UK back in 2015, founder Julian Hearn created Huel Powder, a 100 % vegan powder solution. Now, it also comes in a ready-to-drink form, something that took the company a little over two years to develop. 

Huel isn't just for people looking to go meatless; it's for anyone who wants complete nutrition on-the-go, similar to the other meal-in-a-bottle brand Soylent. The company does frequent lab testing of their nutritional values over shelf life and have trialed their product on people having a 100%-Huel diet for a few weeks to ensure the nutrients in the product are optimal for supporting.

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The company supports the idea that 10,000 years ago, a human’s source of finding fuel was the process of hunting and gathering. Because of the agricultural revolution, people now had the chance to spend their time on other things outside of feeding themselves. With Huel, humans have even more time to work on other projects with their powder-based meals that offer complete nutritional support. Huel’s mission is to make "convenient, affordable food, with minimum impact on the environment and animals.” A lofty goal, but one that has allowed them to sell over 50 million meals across more than 80 countries. 

In fact, they’re now selling 50,000 meals a day, and because they’re a vegan brand, you can add them right into the mix with the rise of other plant-based brands; sure, you might be chained to your desk or held prisoner by your over-active lifestyle, but at least you can do it meat-free.

The packaging for Huel is not only sleek and minimal but effective. Consisting of PET, PET/MET, and PE, Huel initially used these materials to ensure that the product would be protected. The ingredients in Huel are sensitive to light and oxygen damage, so to ensure customers receive Huel in the best condition possible, a layer of barrier protection was critical. Binding a metalized layer to a PET/PE pouch ensures Huel remains protected from light damage, while also offering oxygen ingress protection. 

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These materials allowed the company to use a flat-based pouch, which was much more stable when stood upright than their previous container, plus it was sturdy for travel and had a vastly improved zip for opening. 

The challenges for creating this packaging came from two distinct areas-damage during shipping and recyclability. Because Huel is a powder, when dropped, all the pressure in the packaging gets focused on specific points, mainly the bottom and side gussets of the pouch. This is different than, say, dry dog food, which spreads the impact evenly around the bag. 

Having the pouches strong enough to protect Huel in transit to their customers is a challenge for the brand, but it is something the company strives to improve. As of now, Huel is unable to offer recyclable pouches in their packaging because the material used to create a recyclable receptacle would be structurally inferior, and therefore more wasteful if the package broke while shipping. 

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For Huel, their product isn’t solely for people who want a meat-alternative; it is for everyone who wants to take a departure from the need to stop their busy day and find a little sustenance. With Huel being a complete food that contains all 27 essential vitamins and minerals, protein, essential fatty acids, carbs, fiber, and phytonutrients, people don’t need to worry about how much meat or protein alternatives they’re consuming. Plus, they can take Huel on-the-go, whether it's to the office, coming home from the gym, or heading to a huge client meeting without having to stop or making sure you got all of your meal-prep done last Sunday.

Much like Soylent, Huel might be the fuel of the future. We only hope their packaging can eventually catch up with their scientifically-advanced formulas.