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“We speak to our customers thousands of times a day, and we know their wants extremely well”

on Monday, 10 February 2020. Posted in Scaling up, Interviews

Founder of Huel, Julian Hearn, reveals the secrets behind his company’s incredible success, after becoming the world’s best-selling complete food brand

“We speak to our customers thousands of times a day, and we know their wants extremely well”

Huel has hit a record-breaking 100 million meals sold, with one Huel meal consumed every second worldwide after launching its first powdered food five years ago

“We develop products with our customers in mind. Being a direct to consumer business means we speak to our customer’s thousands of times a day and know them and their wants extremely well,” Julian Hearn, founder of Huel, UK-based pioneering nutrition brand, tells me. Huel has reached astounding success this year, becoming the world’s best-selling complete food brand with after hitting a record 100 million meals sold in a major milestone for the company.

The first few years of launching a business can be the most difficult period, and Huel was no exception to the struggles and obstacles that come with starting up a company from scratch. Julian launched Huel five years ago, releasing their first powdered food product line in June 2015. In 2019, sales of Huel meals jumped by 50% in the US alone. Their bespoke nutritional meals have risen in popularity with a growing consumer base across the world, receiving orders from as far as Japan, Poland and South America.

"I keep meaning to find the people who said this idea will never go anywhere,” Julian added. “Sales of more than 100 million meals across 100 countries demonstrates the trend towards more convenient and nutritious food choices that don’t cost the earth is here to stay. Huel is now a lifestyle choice for most of our customers and it has the potential to be as big as the likes of previous challenger brands such as Red Bull who created then dominated a completely new category. Huel’s global customers place online orders from all parts of the world including Japan, Poland and South America. The largest market for Huel is the UK and it is predicted that the US will soon overtake this following a year of incredible growth in the region.”

Julian had the idea to create a way for people to gain optimum nutritional benefits from their food without having to spend too much time and effort into preparing healthy meals. Julian followed a strict meal and exercise regime and saw great results from it, but found he had to commit majority of his day to planning his meals. That was when he had his Eureka moment – Julian wanted to find a way people can gain nutritional benefits and optimal performance from complete meals without dedicating too much time to cooking and preparation.

“Huel is food and food is essential. Huel is part of our customer’s lifestyle, consuming Huel once, if not twice a day,” Julian said. “Huel is also mainly a D2C company, which has allowed us to scale quite quickly. Huel is not a meal replacement, Huel is food, and specifically complete food. It has all the essential nutrients you need in a complete meal, providing nutritionally complete convenience food.”

In the early days of launching Huel, Julian found it challenging to gain confidence from manufacturers as there was no product like his out in the market. Spearheading a new, innovative nutrition business was increasingly difficult with high expectations to deliver in a challenging sector and not to mention added costs on factories to produce the goods. “The hardest thing was actually to get the product made in the early days. That took a long time and was extremely difficult. The problem wasn’t so much finding manufacturers but convincing them Huel wasn’t like other new food businesses that failed to live up to expectations, with huge costs as a result,” Julian added. “For a factory to change their production line and deal with a new product that’s probably going nowhere is probably not going to be worth their time and effort.”

Huel’s mission is to make nutritionally complete food that is convenient, affordable and has minimum impact on the environment. With a team of nutritional experts, scientists and doctors, Huel has developed an array of delicious food products that are easy and quick to consume, providing your body with all the essential nutrients and macros required in one complete meal. Formulated by Registered Nutritionist, James Collier, each Huel meal serves customers a good balance of protein, carbs, fibre, essential fats and phytonutrients, plus an optimum level of all 26 essential vitamins and minerals required on a daily basis.

At just £1.22 you can buy one of Huel’s 400-calorie nutritionally complete meals, or buy in bulk to get discounted meals costing just £1.10. Huel meals are zero waste, with a year-long shelf life so you can keep your products for longer. As an environmentally and socially conscious brand, all of Huel’s meals are sourced sustainably and ethically, are 100% vegan and are free from lactose, soya, and GMOs, reducing their carbon footprint and potential impacts on the environment.

“Huel is inherently sustainable,” Julian said. “It is a plant-based food, which is one of the most important choices we can all make to significantly reduce our environmental impact on the world. The overwhelming success of plant-based eating shows that there is mainstream acceptance of this. More people are choosing to adopt plant-based eating, not necessarily every meal, but just a few days a week which has been shown to be one of the most effective actions that individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Huel helps people achieve this.”

Huel focuses on keeping nutrition in mind, with the aim to constantly develop and expand their product lines to meet the ever-growing demand from their customers. Huel offers a number of nutritionally complete products, including the world’s first nutritionally complete granola and an on-the-go bar which makes for the perfect snack. Huel has recently launched its first ready-to-drink meal which is now sold at Sainsbury’s stores across the country.

“Everything we do is about our mission and all our future developments are about improving our products in line with this and launch new products based on customer demand,” Julian tells me. “Our mission is to provide nutritionally complete food with minimal impact on animals and the environment. We’re excited to create and develop products that change the way people consume food, with nutrition first in mind.”

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