by Marion Nestle
Feb 8 2018

Annals of marketing: Meal replacements

A reader in South Africa, Effie Schultz, sends an item from NutraIngredients-USA about a new meal replacement product, Bear Squeeze, “packed with MCT [medium-chain triglyceride] oil, kale, pumpkin seed protein and probiotics.”  It is aimed at people on ketogenic (very low carbohydrate) diets.

The president of the company that makes this product, Max Baumann, says that he wants Bear Squeeze to be known as a “higher-end, cleaner Soylent.”

NutraIngredients says:

If there’s any indicator that a large group of consumers are stoked about a meal replacement powder formulated to meet the requirements of a ketogenic diet, let that be California-based Bear Squeeze’s performance on fundraising platform Indiegogo,​ ​where it raised 421% of its $25,000 goal, a good month before its fundraising deadline.

The brand also snagged the top prize​ at the new beverage showdown competition at BevNET Live last month, showing that Baumann has gotten the industry excited about his brand as well.

Why this product?  There is money—lots of it—to be made, apparently.

The impetus to start Bear Squeeze,…was seeing the success of meal replacement brands like Soylent, which recently moved from exclusively digital to brick-and-mortar. Soylent CEO Bryan Crowley said last month that sales performance in the offline channel “blew away expectations.”

I have to confess not getting this.  With plenty of healthy, delicious food around, and at a cost buyers of products like these can well afford, why would anyone want to substitute something that tastes pretty awful (I’ve tasted Soylent and doubt this can be much better) for fabulous food?  People who consume these products must not be foodies, alas.

Medium-chain triglycerides are easy-to-digest fats created and formulated for hospitalized patients with serious digestive difficulties.

I vote for food, glorious food, anytime.

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