A New Hope – European Meal Replacements Fight to Survive

Why the customer should care and try to explore new brands.

I have recently been researching and writing articles about smaller European brands. Companies that have recenly started or have a smaller following than the Big Three (Huel, Queal and Jimmyjoy) and other old school brands (Ambronite, Mana). To my surprise, I have found out that the first, more often than not, offer very good quality products. Superior in many ways, even, to those offered by better known companies.

Therefore, with the uprising of more competition, I hope to see a meal replacement market that is pushed to the limits to succeed. I feel like many brands have gone easy and customers have grown used to their limitations.

This new breed should be encouraged and tried by the customer base. Achieving so by not purchasing their shakes by habit; but rather by intelligent choice of their ideal meal replacement.

So withouth further ado, I want to introduce and discuss the hidden gems of the European meal replacement market and why you should at least try them once.

Note: Any comments on which brands have you tried, why have you done so or have not done so; if you agree or disagree… are very welcome. Please, share a comment.

List of European Meal Replacements
List of European meal replacement companies as seen in the Ultimate Meal Replacement guide.

The New Breed of Jedis

Europe is one of the best places to be a meal replacement fan. As portrayed in the Ultimate Meal Replacement List, there is over 30 different brands catering for all types of diets and nutritional needs. Nonetheless, quantity, more often that not, is not related with quality. This is why I was really surprised, when reviewing some smaller companies, I found out that they are very competitive with bigger brands.

I have heard good things about newcomers and smaller brands, such as, Pacafood, Saturo, Yfood, Vitaline. Besides them, I have recently have the pleasure to work on and try Satislent, Pulve and Runtime. Thus, I will use these last three to make a case for my point.

Pulve: running from 2015, but still relatively small. Pulve has one of the best vegan (and non vegan) shakes nutritionally speaking. When compared to Huel, Queal Vegan and Plenny Shake Vegan, only the first was equal or better than Pulve’s Vanilla shake.

Pulve as an alternativeSatislent: new company with strong foundations for success. Satislent products are also vegan, but unlike Pulve it offers 3 different products in 5 different flavours. Satislent’s main strenghts include price (the cheapest shake you can get in Europe together with Plenny Shake) and use of local ingredients (Spanish virgin olive oil) as their backbone.Satislent as alternative

Runtime: newcomer that is evolving at an increadible pace. Perhaps bigger than the last two, Runtime is a meal replacement company that targets gamers. This German brand might not have the best nutritional shakes, but their range, flavour variety and taste is phenomenal (read more about this in the Next Level Meal review and One week on NLM). On top of that, they keep adding new flavours and prodcuts at an increadible pace. Their social media engagement and dedication to the community is also one of the best (although mainly if you are able to speak German).

Runtime LogoThese three brands, while they remain relatively unknown are able to compete vs Huel, Queal, Jimmyjoy or Mana in one or more aspects of their products. I would not put a bet in either side to win in a lightsaber fight.

The Empire Strikes Back, why the top brands are where they are

However, promising the new brands might be the old guard is there because they have earned their spot in the throne. While, you could make an argument that they might have benefited from being some of the first meal replacements in Europe (e.g. Mana), many of other companies that started with them have fallen into the abbys (Pheed, Cocolaid, Veetal).

Huel: the European meal replacement flagship.

I do not give this title lightly to Huel, but it has become an absolute reference, battling toe to toe (and possibly surpassing Soylent). They provide top quality products, a good range and different flavours, while keeping their price competitive (while not very low). Zero waste and enviromental friendliness are taking really seriously, too. The team behind are increadibly focused and are making Huel’s rise to power possible. On top of that, the community is really interactive and offer continuous content. Thus, any veteran or beginner can have a top quality experience with Huel.Huel Logo


Queal: A contender to the throne.

Queal is a brand that I personally really like. With their expansion to the US, they have started catching up with Huel and Jimmyjoy. I feel like their strength relies on the specificity of their products, really good flavours and generally high protein shakes. Plus, they offer cheaper prices than Huel. They are another brand that has worked their social aspect, and their forum is home to many Quealers.
Queal Logo

Jimmyjoy: The budget meal replacement of excellence.

Started as Joylent, they have always characterized for their really cheap price and their strong brand identity (really peculiar brand imaging). Plenny Shake is a product with many variations and flavours; and Twennybar one of the oldest survinving meal replacement bars. The variety+increadibly price combo is hard to replicate, thus they remain one of fans favourite.

jimmyjoy logo

The Return of the Jedi needs to be powered by the customer

Despite the fact that smaller brands might offer increadible prices (Satislent, Futricio, Eatnano) or  products targeted to specific audiences (Runtime, YFood, Shake2Day) or simply have some of the best nutritional profiles (Pulve); the final say is always on the customers hand.

Because the bigger brands can do a lot better passive and active marketing, they will have the upper hand on reaching the most people. They are also competitive enough that have not stop dormant. They keep working hard and bringing new products  (Jimmyjoy ready-to-drink, Queal Instant Oats) and improving their products (or failing to do so, wink, Jimmyjoy).

Therefore, it is up to the customer (even if it might be unfair) to search beyond old guard. The buyer should be curious to see if there is a better product in the market. A shake that will suit them better. I say so because I have tried and I have found some. Runtime, Pulve, Satislent, PacaFood… they all offer something unique and very good. The European meal replacement ecosystem is booming. It is spring time.

The struggle in the force must go on

A small effort by the buyer, perhaps, with some improved marketing by some of the brands may help us to keep this market on the rise.The force is awakening and we should do all we can to enable so. We already benefit by having more variety, more flavours, more distinct products that our American counterparts. The continuous stress for improvement will mostly benefit the customer, but the customer needs to contribute to that stress.

I would at least urge (recommend) you to explore the local manufacturers. They might offer something unique or be locally sourced so you can support you community.

There are lots of surprises out there. Go and explore.

EU MR balance
Customers can influence the EU meal replacement market balance.
Customers have the final say in which meal replacement survives.
European MR fight
While the complete food brands fight for their lives.
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  1. Alex K. says

    Just goes to show how much NA needs to step up their game. Otherwise Soylent might not be around for much longer, not at the pace the EU market is evolving at. Great article, keep it up.

  2. Dave Cortesi says

    I don’t agree with including either MyProtein or TheProteinWorks in this. Although they have a vast array of supplement products (and I am a fan of the MyProtein flavor drops), neither one sells a complete (100% nutrition) meal replacement.

    1. enaut says

      I guess you mean including them in the meal replacement list?
      I was a bit dubious at first, since as you say they are more of a supplement company – I agree with the flavDrops, big fan of toffee and Vanilla-.
      However, MyProtein produces Whole Fuel, which it is indeed a meal replacement. Although, perhaps not as especialized as others or good tasting; still provides the nutrients you need a day.
      TheProteinWorks (basically MyProteins child that went off to do its own thing) has a “Diet Meal Replacement Shake”.
      I agree with you that they would not be my first choice, but technically they do offer MRs.
      Thank you for your comment though. Much appreciated.

  3. Alex says

    So, I do not understand why I would choose anything other than Jimmyjoy.
    What do I get from paying twice as much on basically any of the other brands?
    Is it really justifiable to get any other brand?

    1. Enaut Irazabalbeitia says

      Interesting question.

      There are many reasons why you would choose another brand, perhaps macronutrient distribution being the most obvious one (e.g. You wanting more protein or fats).
      a) Different macronutrient distribution.
      b) Taste, texture, flavours of your liking.
      c) Protein source (whey, soy, pea, rice…)
      d) Amount of micronutrients.
      e) Quality of ingredients, country of origin, organic ingredients
      f) Light, sport, caffeinated variation
      g) Format (RTD, bar, granola, powder)
      h) Packaging (individual vs big vs day dose)

      But let’s say we have two products that are exactly the same from macro standpoint (55C/15P/30F). One of them is Plenny Shake (JJ) and the other one is a brand that you need to pay double for.

      Even between these two a lot of things can vary from: ingredients, amount of vitamin and minerals and sources, omega-3 levels, type of protein, etc.

      For instance, if you are Gluten intolerant, you would be looking for a gluten free product, which is often paid premium (same for any other allergen).

      Anyhow, if you were to find a product that were gluten free for the same price you would probably looking at the quality of the ingredients. Not saying that JJ’s are bad, but perhaps are not that local or they use cheaper alternatives.

      In a extreme case comparison, think about is as the “white label” supermarket product vs the branded version of the same product.

      There is of course the fact that you pay extra (premium) for some brands (e.g. Ambronite).

      Eitherway, it is true that you get a really good value for money with Jimmyjoy and Plenny shake as stated in my review:

      However, coming back to your point of paying twice, there are many brands with similar price points (all prices without subscription and they might have varied slightly):

      – Plenny Shake €1.22/400kcal
      – SatisUp (Satislent) €1.19/400kcal
      – Queal Standard €1.33/400kcal
      – Huel €1.54

      For mentioning some.
      If we were to compare Queal with JJ, you could choose Queal for the following reasons:
      – More products
      – More flavours (often limited edition)
      – 4 different variations (different prices)
      – Whey protein
      – More protein

      Huel (I know it is more expensive):
      – No soy.
      – Lots of info in their site that gives you confidence
      – Different flavours.
      – More omega-3 content
      – Different ingredients; MCTs, pea protein, rice protein…
      – Nutritional differences…

      Not all this reasons need to appeal you.

      I think you need to think what you value most and buy accordingly. If price is important, I agree with you that JJ has a good offer.

      However you might find products outside with different textures and flavours that you might find of your liking.

      Sorry for the long answer

      EDIT1: Links to reviews if you are interested

      1 Satislent https://latestfuels.com/satislent-review-brand-taking-the-bull-by-the-horns/
      2 Queal https://latestfuels.com/queal-review/ https://latestfuels.com/queal-standard/
      3 Huel https://latestfuels.com/huel-review/

      EDIT 2:
      If in the US there are also other alternatives like Superbodyfuel (which is as cheap as JJ in EU)

      1. Alex says

        Thank you for the very fast and thourough reply.
        I am fairly new to MRP’s so this is all still very confusing to me and I do not know what to look for.
        So your reply helps immensly.

        I tried JJ and didn’t like their first recipe, the consistency wasn’t very appealing to me.
        I then tried Mana and I couldn’t get past how bad it tasted.
        Then I went back to JJ again, and find the consistency much better now.

        I have ordered Huel and will see how I like that. I am mostly curious about the flavours they offer.
        But will not replace JJ with it, since I can’t justiy the price. Especially not concidering the reasons you gave above. The increase in quality of the actual product is not high enough to pay double for it.

        Again thanks for the reply, much appreciated.

        1. Enaut Irazabalbeitia says

          Hey you are welcome.

          It is a very reasonable question to have. I myself often end up with that dilema.It is good that you keep an open mind and try things out. There is definitely something out there for you.

          I hope you got the 10% discount for Huel. Huel is quite granny and not as smooth as JJ. The flavours are a little different.

          I think Queal Standard could be a good fit for you (good range of flavours, a little more expensive but not much, and good texture). They have a very interesting taster as well. https://latestfuels.com/recommends/queal/

          Let me know how it goes and have an awesome week!

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