- Rosa Foods, the maker of Soylent, has started selling the meal replacement drinks at 46 H-E-B grocery stores in Texas, according to a company statement. All five Soylent flavors are available at the stores, including Original, Cacao, Cafe Coffiest, Cafe Vanilla and Cafe Chai.
- Soylent made its first foray into brick-and-mortar retail in July when it began testing its ready-to-drink meals in 18 7-Eleven convenience stores in the Los Angeles area. The deal was recognized as “the first step in Soylent's retail distribution plan,” according to a company statement.
- Soylent is a maker of plant-based meal solutions in bar, drink and powder form, which according to the company’s website “are designed to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and protein that the body needs.”
H-E-B is the first traditional grocer to offer Soylent Drink, which up until this point have only been sold through the company’s website, on Amazon.com or at convenience stores. With its roots in Southern California and legacy as a Silicon Valley darling, Soylent would seem to be a natural fit for a California grocer. But H-E-B, with its experiential spirit, could actually make a good first retail partner for the niche product.
Like many supermarkets, H-E-B is keen on investing in emerging brands that generate consumer excitement. The company is always on the lookout for unique products to showcase in its stores. Even the community gets involved in discovering locally made brands through the grocer's “Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best” contest. Since the competition began in 2014, H-E-B has incorporated 135 products into its lineup of private label offerings.
H-E-B’s one-of-a-kind approach also shines through in its use of vertical farming to offer consumers store-grown fresh produce. Earlier this year, the retailer began raising a dozen varieties of salad greens in a four-level, vertical farm inside a retrofitted 53-foot long shipping container located behind one of its Dallas-area stores.
The same now goes for H-E-B’s decision to carry Soylent. The nutrition-focused line holds a unique position in the marketplace, targeting on-the-go health-conscious consumers, and millennials in particular. Adding Soylent ready-to-drink meals could make H-E-B an appealing place to shop for a whole new generation of shoppers seeking something different.
Last year, Soylent was embroiled in a food recall-related debacle and had a subsequent fallout with algae protein supplier TerraVia. Despite voluntarily recalling its meal replacement bar products, no pathogens were ever discovered. Soylent instead found complaints of consumer digestive distress to be food intolerance-related, with algae protein the suspected culprit.
Upon initiating its deal with 7-Eleven, Soylent founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart noted that it was exciting for the company to move from e-commerce into the convenience channel. Now, just months later, Soylent is taking the next step in moving from c-stores to grocery stores. By launching in Texas-area H-E-B grocery stores, Soylent gains a proven retail partner and a platform to test its mainstream viability.