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Meet Huel: The Sustainable Startup Transforming the Food Industry

By Diane Small

The world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050 and the demand for food will double, according to the WWF. To keep up with this rapid growth in population, the food industry will also need to grow. As it stands today, the planet’s 7.3 billion people are consuming 1.6 times what the Earth’s natural resources can supply, so in order to accommodate the growing population, the food industry will need to change.

Fortunately, with the rise of sustainable business, more and more consumers are concerned about making ethical choices. But how can we produce more food for the growing population without exhausting the world’s natural resources, while simultaneously ensuring ethical practices?

One vegan friendly UK-based business has set out to do just this. With its vegan and “nutritionally complete” food powders, Huel is aiming to reach a massive 9.7 billion people by 2050, while keeping its business model and products as sustainable as possible.

Huel offers nutritionally complete meals for consumers

What started off as a simple powdered food product has transformed into a range of “nutritionally complete” foods, including bars and granola. The environmentally-friendly Huel products are “intended to provide all of the body’s daily needs” and produced from seven main ingredients. These include oats, rice protein, pea protein, sunflower, flaxseed, coconut MCTs, as well as a vitamin and mineral blend and has already received praise for being a viable way to feed “the next billion”.

The powdered form offers versatility, as it can be used in a range of recipes to boost their nutritional value as well as being made into a smoothie. Substituting a portion of plain flour with Huel powder while baking is an easy way to include it in your diet without compromising on your favourite recipes, making it easy for anyone to use.

Of course, consuming the right amount of food with the correct nutritional value can work to help you reach a healthy weight, which is widely necessary now that a third of the global population is considered overweight.

More families struggling as food costs reach an all-time high

The UK price of food increased by 3.7% in January 2018 in comparison to the same period  the previous year. It has also been reported that one in eight workers is struggling to put food on the table as a result of rising food costs, with some families being forced to skip a meal due to food being unaffordable. Now, more than ever, consumers around the world desperately need affordable food, which still offers nutritional value. Huel is attempting to act as a remedy to this crisis, with their affordable price point reflecting the brand’s mission to provide “universally affordable, nutritionally complete food”.

A common misconception with many shoppers is that healthy food is more expensive than cheaper, “fast” foods. The Institute of Economic Affairs found that, with the exception of fish, all the food groups recommended in the UK’s Eatwell Guide can be bought for less than £2.00 per kilogram, debunking the argument that a poor diet and global obesity is caused by economic deprivation. However, despite the IEA’s report, people still clearly struggle to afford food. Huel is making it even easier to adopt a healthy lifestyle, regardless of finances, by offering a ‘price per meal’ from as little as £1.33 with its Huel powder.

The current food industry is unsustainable

Despite healthy foods being more affordable than fast food, the current food industry is unsustainable and contributing massively to global warming. The documentary Cowspiracy, which encouraged viewers to think hard about their eating habits, revealed that it takes 7kg of grains in order to produce 1kg of meat in the UK and the US. These grains could instead be used to feed more people around the world, for a much lower price.

On top of this, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the combined exhaust fumes from all transportation. The European Environment Agency report Food In A Green Light found that the food supply chain is a “major consumer of energy and water”, as well as emitting greenhouse gases and air pollution. It was argued that, in order to reduce the environmental impact of the food system, a change in production methods is required, as well as a change in diet and food choices.

Opting to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet could be a way to combat this. Locally-grown produce can help to reduce the carbon footprint of your food, as there is less transport needed to bring it to your table. More people are now opting for a fully plant-based diet with over 150,000 people taking part in 2018’s Veganuary, to see if they could live without animal products on a more permanent basis. Huel products easily fit in with a vegan lifestyle, as they are purely plant-based, and have a long shelf-life, eliminating any food waste that you may get with fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, it’s important to note that this change may not be as environmentally friendly as some people may think, especially if your plant-based diet is being fuelled by food grown in other countries. A shining example of this is the rising price of avocados and quinoa which, as a direct result of Western demand, has become unaffordable to those who depend on them in their country of origin.

Huelers, however, can rest easy knowing that the ingredients are sourced sustainably and ethically, with many of the company’s products manufactured in the UK. Its year-long shelf life also helps to reduce the amount of food waste per consumer, cementing the brand as a sustainable food source which other companies could do well to aspire to.

*This content was sponsored by Huel.

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