- Huel announces £72 million revenue, a 43% YOY increase and fifth consecutive year of growth, with customers in over 100 counties and 56% of sales from international markets
- The brand’s latest product is its first nutritionally complete warm meal, offering affordable, complete nutrition to time-poor Brits
- Huel Hot & Savoury is a nutritionally complete 100% vegan meal for £2.36, with 24g of plant-based protein, made with whole foods and natural ingredients
LONDON, United Kingdom — ”Complete nutrition brand” Huel has reported strong domestic and international growth, as it prepares to launch its first nutritionally complete hot meal product in the UK.
Last week, the company announced it would report positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for 2019/20, with sales up 43% YoY and revenues of £72 million, driven by its range of nutritionally complete shakes and snack bars.
It is the UK brand’s fifth consecutive year of growth, establishing it as one of the world’s leading complete food brands, now serving customers in over 100 countries and 56% of sales coming from international markets.
Despite the harsh retail climate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand has reported maintaining strong sales growth throughout lockdown, benefitting from its direct to consumer, subscription-based model.
Driven by growing consumer demand, Huel has also expanded its operation, with headcount increasing 34% in the last four months alone, and 120 staff now working (or working remotely) across offices in New York, London, Tring and Birmingham.
HOT & SAVOURY
The brand’s latest addition, Huel Hot & Savoury, is its biggest launch to date, driven by a marketing spend of over £2 million. Each meal is 100% vegan, costs around £2.36 and provides a balance of protein, essential fats, carbohydrates, fibre and all 26 essential vitamins and minerals.
Huel Founder, Julian Hearn, said: “Our goal is to make nutritious food more accessible and more appealing to the masses. Designed for lunchtime, we’re providing our customers with more options to consume 100% complete nutrition without having to count calories and read food labels.
“Huel makes lunchtime easy as the nutrition has all been done for you. It’s made with nutrient-dense quality whole food ingredients, so it’s designed to keep you feeling full with all the good stuff you need to stay healthy.”
GROWTH UNDER COVID
Huel is one of a host of wellness brands that have maintained or accelerated growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week athleisure brand Lululemon reported surprise revenue growth, with sales up 157% despite having to close stores for several months due to the virus. Digital fitness heavyweight Peloton has also reported impressive growth, with revenues up 172% YoY as gym closures increased demand for at-home workouts.
Huel’s co-founder Julian Hearn believes his company has similarly risen to meet the demand for its products as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, despite initial concerns of the impact of the lockdown.
“Huel is a convenient food product that’s perfect when on-the-go, so with the world in lockdown we were unsure what place Huel would have in people’s homes,” Hearn told Welltodo.
To evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on consumer habits, Huel conducted a customer survey and found over 70% either consumed Huel more than usual or their consumption remained the same during lockdown, with 53% saying they turned to Huel to avoid gaining weight or picking up unhealthy eating habits.
“Being direct-to-consumer [and offering a reliable subscription-based service]meant that during lockdown we were able to deliver nutritious food straight to people’s homes,” Hearn added. It also allowed Huel to increase its customer base with more people shopping online.
Now, with more people returning to the office, Hearn believes its latest innovation in ‘complete nutrition’ will prove similarly popular as it helps “eliminate risk or concern that some may have”.
“Huel is a solution for those relying on convenient and affordable food during the working day, to avoid lunchtime queues and communal kitchen spaces as offices reopen.”
While Huel continues to innovate with its new Hot & Savoury product, it faces stiff competition from Silicon Valley company Soylent, which has launched its own “ready to drink” meal using soybean proteins in the UK.
Pioneering technology driving the meat-free movement is also being spearheaded by the likes of Impossible Foods (recently valued at $4 billion) and Beyond Meat (valued at $8.2 billion, with shares up 80% so far this year).
Over the next five years, Hearn predicts this sector will only get more competitive despite the pandemic – or possibly because of it – as consumers become increasingly conscious about the environmental impact their food has on the planet. “Food brands are responding by creating more plant-based, vegan options to cater to new user groups,” he said.
However, rather than simply capitalising on a meat-free trend, Hearn believes the F&B sector is benefiting from brands that are taking a “science-first approach” in driving innovation in the functionality of ingredients.
“The biggest trend is never actually to do with the product, it’s to do with the problem you’re solving,” he said. “Trends can come and go but fulfilling a need and solving a solution with your consumer can ensure the longevity and survival of your product in the market space.”
Hearn added that the company plans to expand its on-the-go offline retail offering in the UK, USA and Europe after a trial launched in the UK in September 2019 “exceeded all targets”.
In 2018, Huel raised £20m from investors including venture capital firm Highland Europe and is currently valued at £220m. Hearn recently said there were currently no plans to raise additional external investment.