Soylent meal-replacement products will be sold at Walmart stores across 14 states starting this month, according to Rosa Foods, which makes Soylent. The Walmart locations will stock the product in Cacao, Vanilla Latte and Coffiest varieties.
Soylent is also being sold in more than 2,500 7-Eleven stores, was the No. 1 grocery product on Amazon in January, and continues to expand customers on its e-commerce site, the company said.
"By working with Walmart, Soylent has the unique opportunity to build presence offline with a leading force in the grocery sector," Melody Conner, Soylent's vice-president of sales, said in a release. "We are committed to making our offline experience as robust as our thriving online business and Walmart marks a significant step in bringing our product to new consumers across the country."
Once considered a curiosity, Soylent has reinvented itself in bottle form and has been slowly rolling out to retailers over the past year. With the drink coming to Walmart, it’s no longer merely a niche item — the drinkable meal replacement appears to be going mainstream.
Consumers say the taste can take a little getting used to — it's been described as tasting like unsweetened soy milk — but clearly the product comes across as convenient and flavorful enough to attract busy people who don't have time for a nutritious meal.
The company says each 12-ounce bottle contains 20% of daily nutritional requirements, along with 400 calories and 20 grams of protein. That protein level compares to a scoop of some protein powders, although others contain less than that.
Selling the product online to subscribers, getting into 7-Eleven stores, and being carried at 46 H-E-B stores in Texas certainly helps the bottom line, but being sold by the largest retailer in the country is another thing altogether. Walmart has the scale and reach to introduce Soylent to millions of new customers, so if things go well during this initial period, it might make sense to stay there before trying to expand too far too fast.
This is the first major expansion of Soylent under CEO Bryan Crowley, who replaced founder Rob Rhinehart in December. Despite raising $72.4 million, the company has had a bumpy ride. Its powdered formula and its Soylent Bars reportedly sickened some consumers, which the company blamed on an algal flour ingredient. After reformulating both products, Soylent brought them back to the market. Trouble struck again last fall when Canada banned the products because they failed to meet requirements as replacements for conventional meals.
Through all of the problems, the company has had a devoted fan base, and now has the opportunity to reach a much wider consumer audience. Despite some complaints about high retail prices, the trial sales have gone well. And although Walmart doesn't have as much of a problem attracting shoppers as some other grocers might, a popular and buzzy product like Soylent may do a good job pulling more consumers to the store.