Went to my box of Joylent to prepare tomorrow's work food and realised I have just three bags left! So I ordered a refill, this time banana flavour, and I also thought I'd try out their main competitor in Europe which is Queal. Queal costs €10 more for the powder, but €8 less for the P&P to Ireland so the price actually came out almost the same. I got the Apple flavour (sadly artificial, unlike Joylent's all natural flavourings), and Queal has a less sophisticated formula to Joylent or Soylent still requiring an oil bottle and using a generic vitamin powder, so you get too much of some of the vitamins and minerals. You also get too much protein because instead of flaxseed they just have extra oat flour, soy flour and whey which I assume eases manufacturing. Interestingly, they are also based in Amsterdam.
Joylent is clearly the biggest player in Europe as you can see by the size of their new warehouse (http://joylent-blog.tumblr.com/post/117244686720/almost-a-year-of-joylent
) and the fact they are selling 30 metric tonnes of product per month now (Soylent in the US probably ship about twice that), and I am finding the popularity of powdered meals in Europe surprising. Put another way, Europeans didn't invent the idea and took a year longer to pick it up over the Americans, but now we're going we have much more competition here and it looks like more rapid growth too in aggregate as an industry. For a continent which is very
fussy about its food, where it came from, what's in it (no GMOs!) and so on, you'd have thought powdered meals anathema here. Also, to be blunt, the quality of average food in Europe (not Ireland nor the UK) is way higher than in the US where quantity is definitely favoured over quality, so you'd have thought there less pressure to eat differently. Additionally we pay a good 60% more for our food than the Americans too, and the combination of those two explains much of the lack of obesity, diabetes and other food related illnesses.
Moreover, Joylent/Queal is not cheaper than normal food. It costs me €3.50/day, for which I can easily make a premium sandwich - nay, two
premium sandwiches and have change left over. So even on that measure powdered meals should not be as popular as they are here.
I suspect the main wins are convenience (no preparation), calorie control (hard to control sandwich contents, always easy to add an extra splash of mayonnaise) and possibly that you do feel really good on powdered meals - lots of energy, regular bowel movements, mind feels active and quick. I also suspect for many people that they aren't comparing the price to DIY sandwiches, but to store bought ones and/or to eating out for lunch every day and/or fast food, and on that measure €3.50/day does indeed look cheap.
And also, ultimately, because Europeans are hypocrites about their food, and love to do in private what they disparage publicly. Which nation eats more McDonalds per head than any other? France. Yet you wouldn't know it talking to a French person! #joylent #queal #soylent