The future of food may be more environmentally friendly, but did one company go too far in claiming a stake?
US based Soylent, who sells a meal replacement drink that’s been called both “the future of food” in breathless headlines, has not been sold in Canada since 2017 due to a failure to meet federal food regulations.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it advised Soylent that the company’s drinks did not meet the compositional requirements for meal replacement products, and that its imports would be halted unless regulations were met.
CEO Rob Rhinehart said the company intended to comply with CFIA regulations, even though the company feels “strongly that these requirements do not reflect the current understanding of human nutritional needs.”
The Soylent revolution did make it to Canada
He went on to say that he didn’t know how long it would take for Soylent to adapt to CFIA’s requirements, and that the company couldn’t estimate when its products would eventually be available again to Canadians. The company said in a statement that it was “working hard to resolve the categorization issue.”
Soylent, which offers meal replacement drinks both in bottles and in powder form, started in 2013 when Mr. Rhinehart was working in Silicon Valley.
The product was built around the idea that home cooking was time-consuming for busy people in a work-obsessed culture.
“It turns a full meal into a one-step process. It makes things a lot less complicated. And when you’re busy, it takes eating off your plate,” was posted on Soylent’s website.
Designed to deliver a healthy ratio of carbohydrates, fat and protein, the product is sold less as a drink and more as a lifestyle. The company’s branding and packaging similarly embrace efficiency over aesthetics with minimalist labelling.
Not affiliated, but the leverage from Soylent Green is unmistakeable
Soylent launched with a crowdfunding campaign raising over $700,000 US in 2013, and the brand grew quickly. The company then started selling in Canada in 2015.
Apparently, this wasn’t Soylent’s first run-in with food inspection agencies. In October of 2016, parent company Rosa Foods recalled Soylent’s “food bars” along with an earlier version of its food powder after customers complained about suffering stomach issues.
There’s no doubting that producing a safe, publicly accepted food product that passes regulatory muster has challenges. Soylent is a perfect example of a product with promise, but do they have the tenacity to fight the good fight?
Soylent’s website specified that the company wasn’t named after the food-replacement wafers that infamously turned out to be made of human flesh in the 1973 movie Soylent Green based on Richard Fleischer’s book.
Meanwhile, Back in Canada…
A Toronto-based landscape architect, Steve Euser, said he’d been a regular Soylent drinker since the product was made available in Canada. “I was working very, very long hours, and eating healthy — actually, just eating — was a problem,” Euser says.
With an ailing father and no time to take care of their design business, Euser found Soylent to be a convenient meal supplement to get him through long days.
Ever since Soylent was removed from the Canadian market back in 2017 one question has been on supporters mind north of the border – when the heck is it coming back, eh?
In a statement recently issued by the company in October of 2019, “It’s finally happening, we are coming back.” Their goal being to have product back on the shelves by the first quarter of 2020.