Starting today, Soylent’s meal-in-a-bottle drinks and powder will again be available for delivery to Canadian consumers, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
This comes after the more than two-year hiatus in Soylent sales in the Great White North. In the fall of 2017, Soylent had to halt Canadian distribution of its products after, as it wrote in the press release, there were “challenges with certain Canadian government filings.” Chiefly, it did not meet Canadian food inspectors’ standards of what constitutes a meal replacement.
Almost three years later Soylent has finally caught up on the proper regulatory paperwork and is returning north of the border. The company will relaunch in Canada with a more limited lineup, including three beverage flavors and two powders flavors. The product will initially be available only online through Soylent’s website.
Now is an ideal time for Soylent to expand its sales footprint. The aforementioned press release noted that the company’s return to Canada “comes at a time when many people are looking for shelf-stable, nutritious products that can be delivered directly to their homes.” In short, a pandemic — when people are panic shopping and anxious about having enough food that won’t go bad quickly — is actually kind of a perfect situation for meal replacement drinks like Soylent.
Jamie Sullivan, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Affairs for Soylent, told me over email that the company had seen “ebbs and flows” with their online sales that “seem to be aligned with the demand and worry about access to meals, groceries, and nutrition during this time.” She also noted that most of the company’s sales right now are coming from D2C channels — unsurprising, considering the rise in food delivery and grocery e-commerce as people shelter in place.
Soylent isn’t the only meal-replacement drink that’s navigating shifts in demand during the pandemic. James McMaster, the CEO of Huel, another complete nutrition company, told me that sales of their meal beverage have been “unprecedented.” He pointed out that Huel’s long shelf life (12 months), D2C sales channel, and low price point ($1.90 a meal) are all contributing to its popularity as we enter a time where people want to stay in more, shop less, and, with a recession looming, save money.
Meal replacement drinks could do more than just serve as back-up consumer nutrition for the pandemic. Sullivan also told me that Soylent is making donations to food banks. Thus far Soylent has donated more than 500,000 Soylent meals.
Normally I’d shy away from including blatant PR-y announcements like this in a piece. However, food banks are currently in desperate need of nutritious food, and meal replacements could actually be a viable solution to help pad nutrition gaps in donations. As well as in your pantry.